Tonight’s cuppa: Hot cocoa (chilly out!)

Dana-Perino-the-five-blue.jpgAs press secretary in the White House of President George W. Bush, Dana Perino, now one of the co-hosts on Fox News Channel’s weekday roundtable show “The Five,” has a view of former Vice President Dick Cheney shared by few in the media.

A portion of her comments about him are in my feature story on the documentary, premiering tonight, Friday, March 15, on Showtime. Click here for that.

But, just for HCTV fans, here are Perino’s full emailed remarks on the topic:

do you recall about your first meeting with Mr. Cheney?

don’t remember the exact moment, though I noticed right away, even when I was
low man on the totem pole, that he always knew my name and would tip me a wink
and a smile. I also immediately thought I could trust him — he has a
sense of purpose and certitude that is admirable in a leader. I also
loved how he loved his family, especially his daughters, and also how he and
Mrs. Cheney would dress up their dogs for Halloween.

did you learn from him?

you never get in trouble for something you didn’t say. That it was better
to listen than to talk, especially if you’re the highest-ranking person at a
meeting — you want to let people feel like they can express themselves, and you
should hold your comments until the end. That’s what the VP would do
during policy time — and then he would share his thoughts privately with the
president. He didn’t need to hear himself talk in meetings.

surprised you about him?

That while he had health issues that we all
knew about, he never gave the appearance of
Richard-Cheney.jpgbeing tired. He was always
the most prepared person in the room for meetings — and even if he closed his
eyes in a meeting, you’d be mistaken if you thought he was taking a cat nap. Believe me, he heard every word! Plus, he had no personal political
ambitions — that’s an amazing thing if you think about it.  That fact
allowed him to have an even better relationship with the President, in my
opinion. He wasn’t looking over President Bush’s shoulder to the next
political primary.

played an unusually active role as vice-president – what challenges did that
pose for you as a communications expert?

I‘d suggest people check out the Personnel
chapter in President Bush’s book “Decision Points” – it explains the choice and
the relationship. And a communication’s person’s job is to deal with all
sorts of situations — most days, the VP was the least of my concerns.

do you think his legacy will be?

The great thing is, none of us will live long
enough to find out — history will have to decide. I like how he can spin
up the Left and just make them crazy by never being cowed by them. I
think that he was an excellent choice for the Vice Presidency.

do you think so many people view him as this ominous figure?

suppose it’s because they disagreed with his views and instead of having a
disagreement, they had to decide that he must be evil. That’s a major
problem in politics today — people don’t just question the policy views of
someone, they question their integrity and their motivations.

you stay in touch?

I saw him during his book tour and Liz (his
daughter, Liz Cheney, a Fox News contributor) and I are in touch regularly by
email and Twitter. We like to keep up on each other’s lives, especially
through puppy pictures. And I pass on tweets and emails to her of people
asking me to tell him they are grateful for his extensive service.

would you like to tell people about him?

That many times during the presidency, the VP
and Mrs. Cheney would invite all of the wounded warriors who were being treated
at Walter Reed over to the VP residence for a BBQ. They’d hire someone to play
country music and they’d just sit and visit and give the wounded a bit of a
break from the routine of the hospital. And they never once invited the
press. Good people are those who do wonderful things for others and don’t
ask for any credit — the Cheneys fit that bill.

you be watching the Showtime documentary?

Definitely…now that “Justified”‘s season is
almost over, I need something else to watch! I was proud to be able to serve in
the Bush-Cheney administration, so I like to read and watch thoughtful pieces
about those years.