Axelrod: Cheney never got 'the memo' to act like a statesman
David Edwards and Muriel Kane
Published: Sunday April 5, 2009

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Former Vice President Dick Cheney has been taking potshots at the Obama administration in recent weeks, but senior White House adviser David Axelrod got the chance on Sunday to take a couple of shots in return.

Appearing on CNN's State of the Union, Axelrod described Cheney's arguments as "ironic" and "incredible" and even suggested that Cheney should take lessons in statesmanship from former President Bush.

The battle-lines were drawn three weeks ago, when CNN's John King asked Cheney, "Do you believe the president of the United States has made Americans less safe?" Cheney replied, "I do."

This week, King tried to carry the dispute a step further, suggesting to Axelrod, "Many officials, including you, were not so happy at the message former Vice President Cheney delivered -- sharp criticism of your boss on a number of fronts."

"I find it supremely ironic," Axelrod replied, "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. 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?"

"That is the fundamental threat that we face," Axelrod continued, "and it's a little incredible to me that he would argue somehow that what we're doing ... is going to make us less safe. I think it was an unfortunate statement."

Axelrod then dug the knife in a little deeper, adding, "Let me say, in contrast, how much we appreciate the way President Bush has behaved. He was incredibly cooperative during the transition, and when he left, he said, 'I wish you guys the best. I'm rooting for you.'"

"He's behaved like a statesman," Axelrod remarked of Bush. "I just don't think the memo got passed down to the vice president."

Axelrod has slapped Cheney down using very similar language in the past. In February, he described Cheney's criticism of the Obama administration as "really irresponsible” and proposed that he is "having a hard time dealing with ... the verdict of the American people." On that occasion, also, Axelrod praised Bush's "generosity" while suggesting that "the memo didn’t go down the line.”

This video is from CNN's State of the Union, broadcast Apr. 5, 2009.

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