Nation: Meet the Real Ronald Reagan

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problems. Reagan set general directions and made the major decisions, but left policy coordination and execution to the aides. He usually left his office about 5:30 p.m., often poking his head into a conference room on the way out to call to his staff, "Hey, you guys, get out! go home to your wives!"

Reagan's chairman-of-the-board style has some advantages: for example, it leaves him free to concentrate on major policy issues, while avoiding the details that can suffocate an executive who fails to delegate. It also has a huge disadvantage: it leaves him dangerously vulnerable to poor work by aides, whom he rarely criticizes. Says a former California assistant: "Ronald Reagan has never even disciplined a maid."

Two incidents from the campaign illustrate how the staff system works, and sometimes fails to work, in practice. The first is the zigzag evolution of his economic program. During the primaries, Reagan vigorously advocated cutting personal income tax rates 30% over three years, on the appealing argument that the reductions would, rather quickly, generate so much extra revenue through stimulating the economy that the risk of inflation-building deficits would be minimal. In retrospect, it now seems clear that Reagan did not really understand the implications of this position, and he came under heavy attack from opponents because he could not supply figures to justify his stand.

During the spring, however, Martin Anderson, a shrewd economist in Reagan's inner circle, began putting together an impressive array of experts to draft a more credible program. They could not talk Reagan into stretching out the tax cuts, but they did succeed in changing the whole rationale for them. Now it is admitted that the rate reductions themselves will not necessarily stimulate enough new revenues to offset the loss. Instead, a strict curb on new spending, plus the natural growth of the economy, would provide enough margin to permit the tax measure. Reagan accepted this substantial alteration without much complaint. However he got there, and however little he understood the trip, he arrived at a position that, while still highly debatable, certainly makes more sense than his simplistic pre-convention stand (see ECONOMY & BUSINESS).

The second incident revolved around the firing of Campaign Manager John Sears and his aides Charles Black and James Lake. In each of his presidential bids, Reagan relied heavily on one adviser. Sears was the man in 1976, and Reagan chose him again last year, despite the objections of his more conservative friends and despite the fact that he did not much like Sears personally. Reagan was acting on the advice of his personal staff, particularly Mike Deaver, who deeply respected Sears' ability. So totally did Reagan rely on Sears last winter that he permitted him to eliminate two of the candidate's most loyal retainers, Lyn Nofziger and, of all people, Deaver. Not until his unexpected defeat in the Iowa caucuses in January did Reagan really rebel. He was also annoyed by the way the press was playing up Sears as a kind of Svengali, and the candidate as Trilby.

Five weeks of anguish followed, during which Reagan worked behind the scenes to reorganize his conflict-ridden staff. Sears ended up trying to fire Ed Meese, his last important rival in the entourage. Finally fed up, Reagan discharged Sears and purged

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