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. barefootboy

    Cheney is a better man than anyone on the Obama team, advisors, or cabinet. You yankees are not loyal to your country like you should be.

    April 5, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  2. Aviate

    "Axelrod the Chicago thug has a lot of room to talk! This is the sleeziest guy ever to hit the political spectrum."

    Ed, I think you are confused. You must be thinking of Karl Rove.

    As for Cheney, the man shot a 70+ year old man in the face while "hunting" quail whose wings had been clipped so they could not escape. And then made the guy he shot apologize for getting in the way! Why should we expect him to have a sudden attack of decency, class, or integrity now?

    I will also note that the US has not been hit by a giant asteroid since 9-11. No doubt the dittoheads posting here think Cheney & Bush deserve credit for that, too (and no blame for the economy)!

    April 5, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  3. Don

    You Bush and Cheney haters are nuts. Believe me , if their were any way they could be charged as war crininals these majority democrats would have already tried them. I thought that all America had to do was elect Obama the chosen one and everyone in the world would be happy , everybody would love each other, every country would disarm and all we would have to do is talk as our new diplomacy. Well reality has set in. Obama got elected and none of these things have happened. Oh but don't give up. Obama is going to go to the UN and he is going to quit using the terms Terrorist and War on Terror. He is also going to keep looking backwards and continue to blame all of the world's problems on Bush. And in the meantime Obama is continuing to steal all of our rights by eventually telling us what type of cars to buy, how much we can make,etc,etc.
    You libs need to get ready for the bumper stickers I TOLD YOU SO!!!

    April 5, 2009 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  4. Lawrence Curtin

    Bush, Cheney, Tennat and hundreds more belong on trial for war crimes and crimes against humans abroad and here that their programs have targeted.

    If found guilty they should be hung with the same rope they hung Sadam with.

    What short memories people have; "Slam Dunk" That could be the sound of them falling through the trap door.

    April 5, 2009 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  5. Jennifer

    The republicans definition of "being safe" is having a military prison on foreign soil in Cuba. Well I have a couple of questions about this definition of safe: 1)Gitmo was in existance when we had World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, the illegal Iran Contra affair and 9/11. Obviously it did not make us "safe" when any of those items occurred. But the republicans want us to believe that we are now "safe" after 9/11 because Gitmo is there and we are no longer safe after Bush left office even though Gitmo is still there? Yeah right. Another question: 2) Over 700 "enemy combatants" have been held at gitmo under Bush yet Bush has let 72% of these "enemy combatants" free and we now have reports that they have gone on to attack America again. Didn't Bush's own actions make our country less safe by letting these "enemy combatants" loose? Why were they set loose? If they were a threat to America why did we let them go? Oh that would be because Bush couldn't find any charge against them. Final Question 3) How many of the 700+ enemy combatants have been charged with anything and brought to trial in the 7 years that we have had this so-called war on terror? Answer is 3. Makes you feel real safe doesn't it?

    April 5, 2009 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  6. Algae ARTIST

    Dick Cheney has been and will always be the spokesman for HALIBURTON. With his comments made after leaving office, he has proved this. No where in the history of this country have we ever GONE to war AND CUT taxes. NEVER. That is what the republicans have done and the mounting debt that Obama was left with is what they are going to blame HIM for. America needs to wake up, read and stop allowing their proposed statesmen act in the best interest of war monger corporations. Wait, did Haliburton do well the last 8 years? How bout' they throw our country some stimulus dollars? Huh, Cheney?

    April 5, 2009 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  7. GoodScout

    We have not had an asteroid hit the planet since January 20, so I guess President Obama's asteroid-prevention program is a success!

    April 5, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  8. lorenzo

    LB! axalrod ran one of the greatest presidential elections in history, but you think karl rove is a smart by using smear tatics.

    April 5, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  9. American Patriot

    Why aren't Bush and Cheney both been executed yet? Why haven't we banned Republicans from our country? Shame on us.

    April 5, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  10. bob

    It's funny when people like "joe" tell me how I am misinformed and ignorant when he can't even spell a word STRAIGHT. Yes, let's unquestioningly thank Darth Cheney for his contribution to making us safe from terrorists. Killing women and children in the middle east definitely does NOT fuel terrorist ideals in the region. Thank you Cheney.

    April 5, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  11. matt

    I wish Chaney would run for president. Obama is an empty suit with zero experience, at it is showing everyday. I think he could reduce the national debt if he simply asks his administration and friends to pay their taxes. Really does the guy know anyone who pays taxes. A week before getting into office he says this..."the economy has not been this bad since the great depression, we need to cut spending". Two weeks after getting into office he says this..."the economy has not been this bad since the great depression, we need to spend a trillion dollars". Unbelievable...who will we elect next, Mickey Mouse?

    April 5, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  12. Alan

    Uh, a safer place? By distracting us with Iraq and overstretching our resources, Obama now has to deal with the mess of N Korea having a ballistic missle and a nuclear capability. Sorry Dick, I don't think you can see the forest for the trees.

    April 5, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  13. OBAMACON

    and so it is that these shat rooms dissolve into so much baloney...thing is Cheney and Bush will write books...sell them to US fools like the ones reading all this carp and make millions...and come out smelling like a rose...the truly American way, after all these bigshot comments are so much dust spouting from readers here mouths....half of u idiots blowing all this gas here probably voted for shrub and chaney.

    April 5, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  14. bob

    I'm scared of terrorists... please take away my liberties and protect me grandpa Cheney

    April 5, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  15. Ed

    I'll give him credit for being impatient and unnecessarily embarrassing people by putting his foot in his mouth in public but safety is an issue he became obsessed with, and after 9/11 that was the only legitimate mode of operation and he tried to do his best to stay a step ahead of a potential dilemma without pouring rocket fuel on the terrorist's fire.

    April 5, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  16. Patrick

    All those who say Amrica has not been attacked since 9/11 because of the Bush/Chaney's Policies, you do not travel out of America and you do not know anything about the world. Americans are being attacked all over the world as we speak.

    If you as a private citizen travel out of America, you are in great danger. You are not going to travel with bodygaurds or guns. You are out there on your own. Bush/Chaney's policies are causing Americans to not travel and see the world freely.

    Well, you won't know about traveling because you just go to work, bar for a drink and home. But for some of us who want to travel freely, these policies have placed a target on us. Those people hate Americans and they will get any American they have in their sights.

    Do you think if you put a person in jail without just cause he will be your friend when he gets out and marry your daughter? You must be a
    fool if you think that.

    Some things in the Bush/Chaney's policies were good and some were bad. So let give the Obama/Biden's policies a chance before we tear it apart. You all act the fool if you die hard republicans or die hard democrats. You need to praise the good and criticize the bad. But you criticize on the line of party which is stupid. Bush was President of America and not of the Republican Party and Obama is President of America and not for the Democratic Party.

    Criticize objectively and not on party line. Bush did some great things and some did not go so well. And Obama has just started so give him some time.

    April 5, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  17. LM

    I wish somebody would put Cheney in front of a microphone and ask him how much money he's made off his Haliburton's contract re: the Iraq war.

    I hope this comes out in his trial!!

    What a dark period of time for the United States!! Corruption at its
    worst!

    April 5, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  18. Peter E

    Who's Cheney to talk about making America less safe? His administration has diverted American resources from Afghanistan to Iraq so that Al Quaeda now had plenty of time to comfortably relocate to Pakistan. They've also ignored the warnings from North Korea for all their years, even given them aid in return for empty promises to stand down. Now we have to deal with both because Cheney and his lackeys were more interested in Iraqi oil than actually protecting America. Cheney betrayed America!

    April 5, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  19. bkb

    If Cheney continues to asser that the Bush / Cheney torture program was legal lets prosecute them so we can get all the facts. If they did nothing wrong why should they care ? Isn't what supporters of their eavesdropping program said? He should be in jail.

    April 5, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  20. Jane

    Of course Cheney is a statement and what gives that him the right to say who is and who is not. When the Obama administration can lno longer critize the Bush Administration what are they going to do? That is all they know how to do and it is time to move on. Bush and Cheney are gone, much to our dismay. I can say I sincerely believe the Obama administration is one of the most arrogant we ahve ever had. Get over Bush and Cheney. Take responsibility for what you are doing, Alexerod, you are noboby and never will be.

    April 5, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  21. Edward

    Why do the Republicans and Bush, Cheney keep talking about keeping us safe and how Obama is dropping the ball when 911 happened on THEIR WATCH. Do they not understand that terrorist struck the US on their watch. Does anyone else notice that Republicans are always preaching personal responsibility yet when they screw up they ALWAYS blame Democrats, are never responsible and never accountable for anything. Republicans, the holier than thou party of hypocrites.

    April 5, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  22. Carol

    I only got to the part in Axelrod's article saying that Bush is a statesman for making the decision not to criticize the new administration, indicating that Cheney must not have gotten the memo. Heaven help us! If BHO would stop his constant and bitter demeaning of President Bush and his administration, and would just own his own presidency, maybe we could call him a statesman someday. Whether Cheney got the memo or not, I'm glad to see that his well seasoned opinions and vast experience are still valued enough for the mainstream media to report.

    President Bush has always been a statesman and a gentleman because that's who he is.

    April 5, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  23. Don

    To TexasAnnie,
    To make all of those accusations along with the name calling you are a disgrace, You have no proof of anything. But like most libs you get caught up in the garbage that they spew.

    April 5, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  24. Scab laborer in the south

    9/11 happened on Cheneys watch and was warned about it ,period.He didnt care,he was in his bunker and ready for it and getting ready to get richer.

    April 5, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  25. John Sturgis, SD

    We can help ourselves if we take a page out of ancient Egyptian history that removed all mention of individuals who they perceived as unworthy of their place in history. Cheney doesn't deserve to be mentioned, he has earned the right to be shunned.

    April 5, 2009 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
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