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O'Neill: Bush 'like a blind man'

Former Treasury secretary's book disparages style

Paul O'Neill on
Paul O'Neill on "60 Minutes" about meeting with President Bush: "It turned out me talking and the president just listening ... it was mostly a monologue."

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Paul O'Neill
George W. Bush
Ron Suskind
White House

(CNN) -- President Bush "was like a blind man in a roomful of deaf people" during Cabinet meetings, his former Treasury secretary, Paul O'Neill, told CBS News' "60 Minutes" in what the network said was his first interview about his work for the administration.

One-on-one meetings were no different, O'Neill told the network.

Describing 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."

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan dismissed the characterization of Bush's style. "It's well known the way the president approaches governing and setting priorities," he told reporters. "The president is someone that leads and acts decisively on our biggest priorities, and that is exactly what he'll continue to do."

The report is to air Sunday.

O'Neill, who served nearly two years in the job, was fired by the White House in December 2002 for his disagreement with the president over his tax cuts.

He was the major source of information for "The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill," by former Wall Street Journal reporter Ron Suskind.

The book is to be published January 13 by Simon & Schuster.

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