The Feud, Dick Cheney’s Humor and Colin Powell on a Segway in the West Wing

Aug 31, 2011 3:24pm

Much of the press coverage of Vice President Cheney’s new  memoir, “In My Time,” has centered on a feud between the former Vice President and Colin Powell, the former Secretary of State.

The two men worked together in Republican administrations for decades, but have split over the Iraq War and other foreign policy during the Bush administration.

“It was as though he thought the proper way to express his views was by criticizing administration policy to people outside the government,” Cheney writes of Powell in the book.

That doesn’t mean they weren’t friendly, or that Cheney was trying to pick a fight with Powell, according Neil Patel, former Sr. Advisor to Cheney, who since went on to co-found the news site The Daily Caller.

“I don’t think he was meaning to pick a fight. I do think he was definitively meaning to tell his side of the story and that’s what he did. And I’d imagine that he would know that it would provoke a reaction from Secretary Powell and others, but I don’t think he his goal in writing this book was to pick fights,” Patel told ABC News’ Top Line political program.

Patel, a former policy adviser, could not speak to the internal debates ahead of the Iraq war, but he said “I was around the vice president quite a bit, and I don’t think it was that tense from a personal perspective.”

“They have a long working relationship. Their families are close. They were close personally, and I remember in the middle of it all when there were major debates – policy debates – between the Vice President’s office and the State Department and other parts of the government, being in the vice president’s office for one of my meetings and briefing him on something [inaudible] Powell on a segway and making a big joke about it as he like cruised around the West Wing, and they were both laughing about it. So that tells me right there that you know they had major disagreements, but personally, they still found a way to get along. These are all adults, and they all work together.”

Patel pointed to a USA Today interview where Cheney, asked what he wants his epitaph to read, said “No comment.”

“He’s a lot funnier than than his – obviously he’s kidding. When he said, ‘heads are gonna explode,’ also, if you look at that video, he’s laughing when  he says it. He loves to stir the pot. Same thing with the ‘no comment,’ thing. Guarantee you he was laughing when he said that. So he is a guy who hasn’t cared as much about his public persona as most people in politics. I personally find that refreshing, and I think there’s a group of people like me who do, and it comes out in this book. he – you see the real Dick Cheney in this book, and it’s a casual guy and a funny guy, even though, obviously, he’s serious, and he deals with all these issues, and that’s one of the things I think people are going to like about the book is, you get an unvarnished look at the guy.”

Patel said he doubts Cheney will take sides in the upcoming Republican presidential primary, but will be active in the general election to defeat President Obama.

“There are certainly nuances between them,” Patel said of the Republican field. “But they’re by and large, they’re all Republicans. When you get down to them versus Barack Obama – that big picture level – the differences are gonna be smaller. I mean, they’re all gonna be for less government, smaller taxes and less regulation as opposed to President Obama who’s for more of each of those. “

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