Exclusive: Dick Cheney says Obama is a 'very weak president'
This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," May 28, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST: So earlier today, while multiple scandals continue to plague the Obama administration, your commander-in-chief decided it was an appropriate time to apologize yet again for America. Here's what he said during his commencement address at West Point earlier this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: America has rarely been stronger relative to the rest of the world. Those who argue otherwise, who suggest that America is in decline or has seen its global leadership slip away, are either misreading history or engaged in partisan politics.
Since World War II, some of our most costly mistakes came not from our restraint but from our willingness to rush into military adventures without thinking through the consequences.
Here's my bottom line. America must always lead on the world stage.
I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being, but what makes us exceptional is not our ability to flout international norms and the rule of law, it is our willingness to affirm them through our actions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: Military adventures? That's how the commander-in-chief would categorize America engaging in armed combat? Now, this comes one day after the president announced that he would withdraw forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2016.
Here now with an exclusive reaction to these stories and much more, former vice president Dick Cheney is with us. Mr. Vice President, good to see you, sir. Thanks for being back.
DICK CHENEY, FMR. VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, it's good to see you, Sean.
HANNITY: Let's start with the president. He's given three speeches in three days about the military. He's got -- let's see, we've outed a CIA operative in Afghanistan. We have a VA scandal that is breathtaking in terms of how inappropriate it is for our vets. And we also have America -- is it in decline in terms of its perception around the world?
CHENEY: I think the perception around the world is increasingly negative, Sean, but I think the main focus is on the president. He's a very, very weak president, maybe the weakest certainly in my lifetime. And I know from my own experience on a recent trip to the Middle East, spending several days talking with folks I've dealt with all the way back to Desert Storm, they all are absolutely convinced that the American capacity to lead and to influence events in that part of the world has been dramatically reduced by this president.
We've got a problem of weakness. It's centered right in the White House.
HANNITY: So as you go around the world and you talk to leaders that you've known all throughout your career, they're flat-out saying they view the United States under this president as weak.
CHENEY: Absolutely, Sean. You know, we talk about 70 years ago, on June 6th, a week from Friday, we invaded France at Normandy, D-Day, June 6th, 1944. That was the beginning of the end for the Third Reich. It was -- marked the last stage of World War II and a tremendous victory by the United States leading the free world against Nazi Germany and against Japan.
For those 70 years, the United States has indeed been the leader of the world, the preeminent nation, based in part upon our values, but also upon our military capability and our willingness to back up and support our friends and allies and to wield that military power when necessary.
I think there's been a general consensus by our presidents since 1945 -- I didn't always agree with all of them, obviously, but I think it was a general consensus that the world was more peaceful and much better organized, more orderly and millions of lives were saved because of U.S. capability, especially military capability.
I don't think Barack Obama believes that. I really don't think he shares that consensus view.
HANNITY: You know, I've been listening to the president the last three days, and at West Point earlier today, and I get the feeling -- I don't think this president grasps the difference between ending a war and actually winning a war. I think we pulled out of Iraq because he thought the good war was in Afghanistan too early, and seemingly, we're doing the same thing in Afghanistan. He seems proud of the fact he's ending something. Did we win those wars?
CHENEY: Well, we would have won in Iraq, I believe, if he had done what he should have done, which was to negotiate a stay-behind agreement with the Iraqis so there would be a U.S. force there, not to be heavily engaged in combat, but to provide the training and the support that was needed. Because he failed to do that, we ended up now with the only military presence in Iraq is our military attache at the embassy.
What he's now announced on Afghanistan, going to zero U.S. force in Afghanistan by 2015 totally ignores the reason why we went in there in the first place. It's as though he wasn't even around when 9/11 happened. You know, the reason we went into Afghanistan is because 19 guys armed with airline tickets and box cutters who had trained in Afghanistan, who were supported out of Afghanistan by al Qaeda and Usama bin Laden, came over here and killed 3,000 Americans on 9/11.
And we went in there with very, very good, sound reason. We've been very successful up to this point. But it's absolutely unwise, and terrible, I think, both from the standpoint of the troops, from the standpoint of the respect we need to show those who made the ultimate sacrifice there for him now to say, Well, we're going to zero, and everything's going to be hunky-dory.
He doesn't read the history books, perhaps. Maybe he doesn't -- I think it's a case that he hates to use military power. He doesn't believe it's ever justified. And I think his speech today is going to put fear once again into the hearts of our alibis who don't believe they can count on the U.S.
HANNITY: So he really didn't preside over the ending of two wars, but the losing of two wars based on his decision. Isn't that a pretty contemptible record? I mean, are we leaving Afghanistan to the tender mercies of the Taliban? Are they going to come back in power?
CHENEY: Well, remember, there was a time back in the '80s when the United States was supporting the Afghan mujahideen against the Soviets. We had help from others doing that. We ultimately succeeded, and then everybody turned around and walked away from Afghanistan, and of course, then they had a civil war. The Taliban came to power. Ultimately, Usama bin Laden found safe haven and trained 20,000 terrorists in the late '90s. We should have learned from that.
It's very important that we maintain a presence there and that we sign a status of forces agreement. This is not a new concept. We've done it all over the world. We still have forces in Korea today and Germany and Japan for good and sufficient reason, because it's in our interests to be there, because we can we help stabilize the area.
Afghanistan is important, too, because of the neighborhood. Right next door is Pakistan. What's Pakistan? Well, they've got about 100 nukes. They have a significant element of people who follow radical Islamist belief there. But Afghanistan also was crucial in getting bin Laden. That's where we launched the raid from that ultimately took down Usama bin Laden. He's prepared at this point to pull out all of capability in Afghanistan, not negotiate a stay-behind agreement.
That's stupid. It's unwise and it will, in fact, just reinforce the notion that we're weak, that we've got a leader who doesn't understand U.S. obligations and commitments around the world and is not prepared to act on them.
HANNITY: Mr. Vice President, you said stupid and unwise, and I agree with your assessment. But does it also then mean that the president only ended a war and didn't win it, when he should have been in it to win it? Is that a fair...
HANNITY: You agree with that.
CHENEY: Absolutely. I agree with that.
HANNITY: Let me -- let me...
CHENEY: Both places.
HANNITY: We're now in the sixth year of the Obama presidency, and frankly, I can't even believe it, but there's still an obsession to blame the Bush-Cheney administration. In this case, it's about the VA scandal. Now, I want you to listen to Nancy Pelosi through this prism. President Obama, then candidate Obama in 2007, 2008, 2009, '10, '11, '12 and '13, talked about how he was going to help veterans in the VA, in the hospitals, et cetera. But here's what Nancy Pelosi said based on this scandal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-CALIF., HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: He sees the ramifications of some seeds that were sown a long time ago, when you have two wars over a long period of time and many, many, more -- millions more veterans. Maybe when we go into war, we should be thinking about its consequences and its ramifications. You would think that would be a given, but maybe it wasn't.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: The president campaigned on this starting in 2007. You see how bad the scandal is. You know the inspector general report came out today. What is your reaction to her?
CHENEY: Well, I've always had a difficult time taking Nancy Pelosi seriously. Six years out since we left office, and we're still blamed by Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, obviously, for their current troubles. They're the ones in power today. And as you point out, Sean, you -- on your show, you've done a great job of laying out the Obama record of all the times he said he's going to get to the bottom of it.
And of course, the inspector general report -- I haven't seen, I've heard about today -- in effect, finds that the charges and the claims coming out of Phoenix with respect to the scandal at the VA are indeed accurate, that the service there has been so bad that, indeed, it's threatened the lives of our veterans. That's an outrage.
HANNITY: Let me -- let me ask you about this. And we have vets dying. We know the fraud has been institutionalized across many states now, and it's getting bigger every day. They just had an article in The Daily Caller today calling it basically the equivalent of organized crime so these guys could get their bonuses.
Maybe I'm naive about the ways of Washington. Why isn't there more urgency? If these guys need health care that we promised them after serving the country, where is the 1-800 number that they can call and get immediate assistance so that more people don't die? Where is the group of doctors that would assess the -- on a need basis, who prioritize, who get taken care of first?
That's what I think I would do if I were president, which would never happen. But that seems to me to be the common sense answer. The president said he's going to investigate.
CHENEY: Well, I think part of the problem, Sean, is there obviously is a huge bureaucracy problem involved. But it also says something, I think, about the ability of the government to run this kind of massive program, as contrasted, for example, with the capabilities of our private health care system. I think it does raise doubts about some of what the administration's recommended under "Obama care."
There's no question but what the VA has got serious, serious problems. It's evident, I think, from a lot of testimony that's now being taken and whistleblowers that are stepping forward, and I think this president, as well as the head of the VA, have to bear some of the responsibility for that.
HANNITY: All right, Mr. Vice President, it's good to see you. By the way, how's your health? You look -- you look as good as I've seen you.
CHENEY: Sean, it's great. I've been blessed with good health, a heart donor, great medical system. I am a product of that health care system and...
HANNITY: The private one.
CHENEY: ... it's miraculous. The private one, exactly.
HANNITY: OK. Well, we -- our vets certainly need that. Mr. Vice President, good to see you again. Thank you for being with us.
CHENEY: Good to see you, Sean.
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