Bush In Cabinet Meetings:
'A Blind Man In
Room Of Deaf People'

Dow Jones Newswires

NEW YORK (Dow Jones)--Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill told CBS News that President George W. Bush was so disengaged in Cabinet meetings that he "was like a blind man in a roomful of deaf people," the network reports on its Web site, in what it calls as his first interview about his time as a White House insider.
O'Neill spoke to CBS for a "60 Minutes" report to be broadcast 7 p.m. EDT Sunday (0000 GMT Monday).
The CBS correspondent, Lesley Stahl, calls the interview " unflattering portrait of the White House and of the president - and specifically, about how they make decisions," the report said.
O'Neill was fired by the White House for his disagreement on then-proposed Bush tax cuts.
His forthcoming book, "The Price of Loyalty," written by Ron Suskind, former reporter of The Wall Street Journal, reveals his criticisms of the White House.
While some may call it a "kiss-and-tell" book, O'Neill said, "I've (come) to the conclusion people will say damn near anything," the CBS report said.
Suskind's book unravels an insider's picture of the White House drawn on interviews with O'Neill, dozens of other Bush administration insiders and 19,000 documents provided by O'Neill, CBS said.
O'Neill said that a lack of dialogue was the norm in Cabinet meetings he attended, the report said. The president "was like a blind man in a roomful of deaf people," O'Neill is quoted saying in the book.
O'Neill described the similarities in 1-on-1 meetings, CBS reported. Of his first such meeting with Bush, O'Neill said, "I went in with a long list of things to talk about and, I thought, to engage (him) on...I was surprised it turned out me talking and the president just listening...It was mostly a monologue."
CBS said the White House tried to brush off O'Neill's assessment of Bush's decision-making policies. "It's well known the way the president approaches governing and setting priorities," said spokesman Scott McClellan. "The president is someone that leads and acts decisively on our biggest priorities, and that is exactly what he'll continue to do," the former treasury chief was quoted as saying.
In the CBS interview, O'Neill also revealed new information about key economic and foreign policy discussions within the Bush administration that took place during his two years there, including decisions on what to do about then Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and how far to go with tax cuts.
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