- 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
- 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
"revealing...an unflattering portrait of the White House and of the
president - and specifically, about how they make decisions," the
- 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
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