Andrea Mitchell Claims Iran an 'American Ally' Before Bush Gave 'Axis of Evil' Speech

In a shocking declaration on her 1 p.m. ET hour MSNBC show Tuesday, host Andrea Mitchell asserted that one of America's fiercest enemies was actually a friend to the U.S. before George W. Bush came along: "Up until that moment, Iran was cooperating with the United States on the border of Afghanistan, it was post-9/11, Iran was more or less an American ally. By being included in the Axis of Evil, it turned the Iranian government in a completely different direction." [Listen to the audio]

The topic came up when The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza told Mitchell that the last "memorable and impactful" State of the Union address was President Bush's 2002 speech labeling Iraq, Iran, and North Korea to be an "Axis of Evil." Mitchell interrupted: "No, let me challenge you on that....Colin Powell and the State Department did not focus enough on those words and get them taken out of the State of the Union."

Mitchell concluded that speech was "a turning point in American politics and in foreign policy." Cillizza replied: "Andrea, I would agree with you."

The random Bush-bashing came during a segment previewing President Obama's upcoming State of the Union Tuesday night.

Here is a transcript of the January 28 exchange:

1:19PM ET

(...)

CHRIS CILLIZZA: We went back, here at the Post, and looked at sort of the most memorable impactful State of the Unions. The most recent one we found was George W. Bush, his first State of the Union after September 11th, so 2002, when he laid out the Axis of Evil. These are not typically speeches – even for someone who is quite gifted as a speech giver like Barack Obama is-

ANDREA MITCHELL: But, but let me-

CILLIZZA: These are not speeches that traditionally make a huge impact. Go ahead, I'm sorry.  

MITCHELL: Let me – no, let me challenge you on that.

CILLIZZA: Okay.

MITCHELL: Because that speech arguably turned this country in a direction on foreign policy – now I know that tonight will not be about foreign policy and traditionally it's not. But those words, "Axis of Evil" – and I was standing right here in Congress, and when I heard those words I called the control room and I said, "This is a big deal."

CILLIZZA: Huge.

MITCHELL: The State Department – you know, with all due respect – Colin Powell and the State Department did not focus enough on those words and get them taken out of the State of the Union. Because up until that moment, Iran was cooperating with the United States on the border of Afghanistan, it was post-9/11, Iran was more or less an American ally. By being included in the Axis of Evil, it turned the Iranian government in a completely different direction. It was a turning point in American politics and in foreign policy.

CILLIZZA: Andrea, I would agree with you. My point was not that  – I would say that one was the exception, not the rule. Not that that speech didn't matter, it in fact quite did.

(...)

— Kyle Drennen is News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Kyle Drennen on Twitter.