Cheney vs. Bush: Former Vice President Writing Tell-All Memoir

Since the day Dick Cheney left power in January, the former vice president has not exactly left the public stage.

On cable news and in speeches, he has, more than any other member of the Bush administration, vigorously defended his legacy.

"I was and remain a staunch proponent of our enhanced interrogation program," he said in a speech delivered May 21,2009, to a crowd at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C. "The interrogations were used on hardened terrorists after other efforts failed. They were legal, essential, justified, successful, and the right thing to do."

These days, Cheney reportedly spends much of his time holed up at his new home in Virginia -- drafting his memoirs.

"What I know about the book is what he is telling other people about the book. And that's not often very much," said Bart Gellman, Washington Post national reporter and author of "Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency."

But today's Washington Post lists several sources close to Cheney, saying the former vice president has been surprisingly candid about his disappointment with the final few years of the Bush administration.

"The implication was that Bush had gone soft on him," one confidante told the Post.

Gellman said, "The thing he regrets most is that Bush walked away from him. George Bush softened."

Cheney enjoyed unprecedented power and influence during Bush's first term.

"No one other than a president has ever had as much power in the modern history of the United States," Gellman said.

But the president later distanced himself from Cheney, rejecting his advice to continue the practice of waterboarding, firing Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and refusing to pardon Cheney's former chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

"Cheney thinks Bush bent on these things for the wrong reasons," Gellman said. "That he lost his nerve in the face of public criticism. That he curried favor with the public in ways that, in Cheney's view, are almost dishonorable."

Cheney Brushes Off Public Opinion

Cheney famously disregards public opinion. Last year, ABC's Martha Raddatz asked him about the Iraq War, and he was less than forthcoming.

RADDATZ: Two-thirds of Americans say it's not worth fighting, and they're looking at the value gain versus the cost in American lives, certainly, and Iraqi lives.


President Bush answered that same question with a lot more humility.

"Obviously, I care about what the American people think. They're the people that are paying for the effort," he told Raddatz.

Cheney has been downright contemptuous of other administration officials who later broke ranks and expressed criticism in public. If he is, indeed, preparing to dish the dirt in his memoirs, some Bush loyalists are bound to view it as hypocritical.

But it's also likely to make Cheney's book a best-seller, with insight into a partnership that friends and foes agree was unique in the history of the U.S. presidency.