June 7th, 2009
09:49 AM ET
13 years ago

Critics 'didn't pay attention' to Cairo speech, aide says

WASHINGTON (CNN) –- As the world continues to digest and dissect President Obama’s historic speech directed at the Muslim world, a senior aide to the president is pushing back on the suggestion that Obama’s latest overseas trip amounted to an apology tour.

The president’s criticis “didn’t pay attention to this speech or any of the speeches he’s making,” senior adviser David Axelrod said in an interview aired Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union. “Embedded in this speech was a very strong explanation, explication of who we are and what we’re all about, our values as a country and our history as a country.”

Axelrod likewise rebuked the suggestion that Obama was critical of his predecessor while addressing the Muslim world from Cairo Thursday.

“Iraq was a war of choice that provoked strong differences in my country and around the world,” the president said in Egypt. “September 11th was an enormous trauma to our country. The fear and anger that it provoked was understandable. But in some cases it led us to act contrary to our traditions and our ideals,” Obama also said.

Those comments were not specifically directed at the previous occupant of the Oval Office, Axelrod said Sunday.

Obama “didn’t point a finger at George W. Bush and he didn’t offer those observations to make a political point,” Axelrod told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King.

“He offered them to report candidly on the history of the last few years. That is well understood and well-known . . . you can’t be candid about other people’s actions and responsibilities and not your own.”

“It wasn’t meant to criticize any one person,” Axelrod added. “It was meant to discuss in an open and honest way where we’ve been in order to, as I’ve said, clear away the debris so we can move forward.”

During his appearance on State of the Union, Axelrod also discussed the Obama administration’s plans to jump start the Middle East peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.

soundoff (58 Responses)
  1. Lis

    I e-mail in stead of leaving a comment for today's.Can guest on Cnn NEWS say President OBAMA and not just OBAMA.your show is not the only one many others. Give the man his respect Mr Bush had know problem with this as much go fugire, and remember it have not been a year yet people lets give him some time. And I'm one too is woundering what's going on as well

    June 7, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    It is interesting how the Republican analysts have reacted to the President's speech in Cairo. They must have been listening to a totally different speech than millions of others around the world or else they didn't listen at all and are reacting to little clips taken out of context and are blowing them out of proportion. Again they missed a perfect chance to show that they care more about their country and bringing peace to many parts of the world than they do about partisanship and whining about President Obama's successes. If he brings world peace, stops global warming, solves the economic crisis and cures cancer, the Republican right will still criticize him. They are still coming off as sarcastic, bitter and unwilling to ever admit that he is so popular around the whole world and has done so much to rebuild your country's reputation. They would choke ever admitting that. The huge majority of blogs on many sites except Fox fully supported the President's trip and speech and are proud your new President. Until the Republican leaders and analysts start to put aside the hatred and show that they are Americans first and politicians second, they are never going to gain more supporters. Don't they see that? I wish someone would get a body analyst to watch many of the Republican pundits and report on their body language and the "deer in the headlights" look in their eyes. It is sometimes fun to watch.

    June 7, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  3. T Mckinley

    Those who are commited to seeing our President fail, have absolutely NO desire to listen, or to be fair and objective.

    Their only interest is to pull soundbites from our President's speeches, take them out of context, and try to convince people that he's saying something that he's really not.

    These people are a bunch of intellectually dishonest, lying hypocrates!
    "Fair and balanced" my @$$!

    June 7, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    We are not a Christian country, but we are one of the largest Muslim countries in the World?

    It's ok to speak to the Muslim nations but there is no such thing as a Christian nation?

    Pandering, all the way.

    June 7, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  5. Tim

    As an American, I find my country extremely exceptional and better than other countries around the world. For the past 100 years we have done nothing but try to do right in the world. We have contributed to the world's economy, and therefore the worlds people, at least 10 fold compared to any other country in the world. We have pushed the boundries of scientific and medical research. We have contributed treasurers and blood to free the worlds oppressed and feed the worlds starving. There is zero doubt that our country is exceptional, and we should all be proud of it and feel free to talk about it and challenge others to live up to our ideals.

    To reject exceptionalism and say that no country is above another is simply disingenuous and a slap at the American spirit. Other countries are free to prove us wrong, by example. Not one has stepped up to do so. Few have even made small steps to prove us wrong. I won't apologize for these facts but I guess our president is free to do so. I'm free to call him out on it. Hopefully people realize the harm before we reach the point of no return.

    He can continue to apologize for us and in essence "dumb us down" to the rest of the world. Just like our education system dumbs it down so that others can keep up. And just like our welfare system "dumbs it down" so that those who don't have the work ethic are not left behind. I think it's wrong, and it will destroy our country. Good thing he'll only be president for 4 years.

    June 7, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  6. JDB

    Axelrod is right. Pres. Obama didn't point any fingers – he stated a fact. Iraq was a war of choice, that should be beyond dispute at this point. I watched the speech, he made no apologies. The folks that say he did weren't paying attention. Mitt Romney must be psychic...he called the apology hooey before the speech even took place. Not only was he totally incorrect, it's also bad form to criticize a sitting President while he's overseas. I thought mittens had better sense and better manners, but he reacted like a 12 year old.

    I welcome the turn of the page from cowboy diplomacy to taking a more intelligent, productive and pragmatic view of the middle east.

    Job well done Mr. President.

    June 7, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  7. Simmy

    Republicans have a problem with comprehension......The President is too deep for them....His intelligence continues to reduce them to a noun, a verb and sound bites.....

    June 7, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  8. Jane

    Of course, he was critical of Pres. Bush. When he no longer can blame him,. what is he going to do? Obama is most arrogant – he is scarey – arrogant – mean – you name it that is what he is. Leave the former administration alone and do your thing and then you take responsiiblity for what you do so the next administration can blame you and they will have enougb to blame.

    June 7, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
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