April 5th, 2009
04:10 PM ET
13 years ago

Axelrod hits back at Cheney: Not behaving like a 'statesman'

(CNN) - Top Obama adviser David Axelrod sharply criticized Dick Cheney's recent contention that the president's national security policies have made the country less safe, suggesting the former vice president is not behaving like a "statesman."

[President Bush] has behaved like a statesman," Axelrod told CNN's John King on State of the Union regarding the former president's decision not to criticize the new administration. "And as I've said before, here and elsewhere, I just don't think the memo got passed down to the vice president."

In an interview on State of The Union last month, Cheney said the president’s decision to reverse a series of the Bush policies with respect to the war on terror was putting the country's national security at risk. (Video below)

"I think those programs were absolutely essential to the success we enjoy, of being able to collect the intelligence that let us defeat all further attempts to launch attacks against the United States since 9/11," he said then. "I think it's a great success story. It was done legally, it was done in accordance with our constitutional practices and principles…"

But in the interview Sunday, Axelrod suggested the Bush Administration terrorism policies had largely failed.

"I find it supremely ironic, on a day when we were meeting with NATO, to talk about the continued threat from al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where they're still plotting against us eight years - or seven years later," he said. "I think the question for Mr. Cheney is, how could that be? How could this have gone so long? Why are they still in business?"

Cheney's blunt criticisms of Obama have differed markedly with comments for President Bush, who in a recent speech said the new president "deserves my silence."

"I'm not going to spend my time criticizing him. There are plenty of critics in the arena," the former president said during a speech in Canada last month.

Filed under: David Axelrod • Extra • State of the Union
soundoff (301 Responses)
  1. justinv82

    Please read im a 27 year old man that comes from a a great fam. tell me what you think about this idea insted of giving $$ to GM why dont they give that $ to working famillys that have paid taxes for at lease 10 years. And make a law that they can only and I mean only spend it on new cars that are great for the world. So if you think about it the car company gets the $ back in there pocket and saves jobs not just save jobs but make jobs all over. It would make jobs even in auto part stores. And then allso the familly that gets the $ for the new car should even give one of there old cars back for scrap that would once again make more jobs but the best thing of all it helps out on polution. and Global Warming. and ya I no I cant spell.

    April 5, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  2. jb

    Why not waterboard Cheney and get the facts straight finally ..

    April 5, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  3. jK

    Interesting, we have not had a terrorist atack on our soil in 8 years and Bush's policies are called a failure.
    Thank G.W.B. for his service to this country and wish the new president success.
    I voted for McCain and I voted for G.W.B. but Obama was ELECTED.
    Obama is our president and if I don't like him I can vote again in 4 years.
    Traveling and living in other countries has given me a deep appreciation for the USA. The only improvement I suggest is to have a constitutional amendment for term congressional term limits.
    Think about it.
    God bless the USA.

    April 5, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  4. Larry Schlueter

    It is the same-o-same-o . . . too many people only know how to be critical and are unable to show any type of intelligence. Instead of Axelrod stating his comments and trying to rise above the level of the typical liberal comments, he continues to support the hate about what is wrong with others and not trying to improve his own comments. Please politicans . . . accept responsibility for your own actions and move forward to better the USA . . . no not continue to talk about the negatives . . . hopefully some of you may end up being considered a 'leader'.

    April 5, 2009 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  5. joe

    Sadly most of you on both sides of this issue are terribly misinformed and ignorant of most of the issues. You're opinoins are what ever is fed to u by the mass media. wether it is CNN or FOXNEWS they all are slanted. Why don't you get truly informed and develop you're own opinions!!! All sides have thier own agenda. One thing I will say is this I wasn't Clinton or Bushes fault we where attacked on 9/11. It was the fault of the terrorist. Lets keep that strait please.

    April 5, 2009 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  6. Steve Lyons

    Cheney is absolutely correct when he says that Obama is making the US less safe. The security and defense of the US is NOT an appeasement position like Obama wants to take, it is a proactive defensive position and statesmanship be hanged. Statesmanship and appeasement gave us BOTH world wars and I don't really want to be tied up in a third one.

    April 5, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  7. Scab laborer in the south

    I think Bin Laden has been on Cheneys payroll.

    April 5, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  8. Matt

    It's interesting how cheney, an individual who represented such an unsuccesful and corrupt republican presidency, feels that it is useful to sit back and criticize efforts towards improvements and focusssing on the real war on terror.

    He is truly incapable of changing opinions and is U.S.A.'s most dangerous terrorist. He's forgot about americans and only looks to use political platform as a slimy business venture / forcing religious idealogy into government. He's completely untrustworthy and out of touch. Cheney could care less about America.

    April 5, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  9. Larry001

    Not sure what to think right now, but I'm glad Obama regime is getting some early criticism. I believe Obama does try to stay connected, and will hear people's doubts about him and his administration and respond accordingly. The Republicans (I used to think I was one) have brought the country and most of the world to near ruin due to their "forever majority" Rovian politics, hurtful deregulation of the sub-prime mortgage and other major industries, and active utilization of torture in a made-up war of choice in Iraq. They continued their stupidity to the present day with adherence to those same ruinous principles in Congress that brought us to near ruin. Therefore I'm glad they're in the minority now and their capacity to bring more ruin is thus limited...I agree with the other comment, CNN please take the mike and cameras away from Cheney, he's done enough to hurt the country already...

    April 5, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  10. Texas Annie *-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

    Where was Cheney the last eight years?? We never heard a peep from this crook while he was in office. He just hid out in his 'safe room' and conducted his dirty crooked business. Now he thinks he's a spokesman for Americans?? HA!! If there is any justice in this world, Dick Cheney should be tried for all the crooked underhanded & illegal cr** he did while VP. It would be interesting to know how many millions he made off of some of the government contracts with companies he had investments in. I feel badly for his wife & daughter– I sure wouldn't want to call this disgusting scumbag my husband or father.

    April 5, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  11. lorenzo

    i know how to shut him up! bring him in on war crimes, along with blackwater.

    April 5, 2009 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  12. Palermo

    To Greg, on Obama: "He should just renounce his US citenzship, move to France, and run for office there."

    You no longer have the right to renounce your US citizenship. The Bush administration and Republican Congress quietly removed it in 1993 or 1994.

    But at least in France, he would have free medical and dental care (in the #1 health care quality system in the world, the US ranks #39), his kids would get a free college education, if unemployed he would get 70% of his last salary as unemployment, and could get around the country on the world's most advanced mass transit system. And, yes, he would have to pay taxes for it. The US tax system: lowest taxes int he western world (although no American believes it)...pay little, get little.

    April 5, 2009 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  13. Gumdrops

    CNN – the problem here is not Cheney or Axelrod. THE PROBLEM IS JOHN KING!!! Please replace him. He is NOT impartial. It's so obvious he's slanted toward the Republicans. Please put somebody on "State of the Union" who has a brain. Thank you.

    April 5, 2009 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  14. Big John

    Cheney, Bush, Rice, Ashcroft, Gonzalez,Yoo, and the rest of them...war criminals all of them and should be in orange jump suits making road gravel

    April 5, 2009 11:56 am at 11:56 am |

    so it is that cheney fits into the same category as OJ simpson...it took sixteen yars for OJ to finally go to prison on a misdemeanor...it is probably going to take cheney same unless he goes to church...then he is completely excused...LOL

    April 5, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  16. LB

    Dick Cheney's opinions are negative and arrogant, always have been. He and many people in his circle can't possible relate to anything that the citizens of this country work so hard to have a decent and happy life. I wish not to hear this man's opinion again on any subject, his realty is so far beyond the real world.

    April 5, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  17. bob


    You read too much HYPE about the real plan. The republicans will always use scare tactics. Take the time to read the whole plan not just what Rush (druggie) Limpbough says

    April 5, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  18. Robert

    Cheney belongs in jail, awaiting his trial.

    April 5, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  19. LB

    David Axelrod! What a JOKE!

    April 5, 2009 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  20. Brook Mantia

    Ha ha! Cheney is like the cranky, crazy old uncle that just sits in the corner ranting & raving while the rest of the family ignores him. Batty old curmudgeon!

    April 5, 2009 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  21. sooner

    Pass that memo on to Al Gore, who has been foaming at the mouth for the past 8 years.

    April 5, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  22. Bill/CA

    I'm sick of hearing that whole argument of how, because we weren't hit with a terrorist attack on U.S. soil in the last seven years of the Bush administration, that somehow that makes his presidency a success. Had Bush not ignored the intelligence and warnings leading up to 9/11, there's a good chance that we would have had ZERO attacks during his entire presidency. Then, and only then, would he or Dick have any credibility in that whole argument. Oh, and what of all the Americans who have died in the "War on Terror" abroad? That whole argument belittles their sacrifice, which is disgraceful. You Bush/Cheney apologists should be ashamed of yourself for dismissing the sacrifices that people have made for our wars abroad.

    April 5, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  23. Doug Dittko

    Is it lost on only me that the most horrific terror attack in our country's history happened under the watch of the Bush administration? The President was warned in a briefing that he received a month prior to the attacks that we were going to be attacked with our own passenger planes. His hubris prevented him from responding in a responsible manner.
    I'm am grateful that one of the darkest periods in our nation's history is over. I'm, once again, proud to be an American.

    April 5, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  24. Grumpy

    Talk talk talk , a lot of hot air ! Its just going to get a bunch of Americans killed on our on turf !

    April 5, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  25. Rob in WA

    Axelrod doesn't have a clue about the unquenchable hatred these terrorists hold for everything Western. All one can do is strive to keep them at bay (preferably by terminating their existence/planning/recruitment). I never liked Cheney myself, and I was genuinely repelled by Rumsfeld, but they did help prevent another attack on the U.S. I hope Obama's team can equal that accomplishment... but with a moron like Axelrod thinking that you can "eliminate" (or convert?) these profound haters of Democracy and western ideals in a decade... that's highly unlikely. And, as another respondent said, they'll still be around at the end of Obama's presidency. God have mercy on us.

    April 5, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
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