From the first chapter of Steve Hayward’s next book about Ronald Reagan:
Human Events newspaper–one of Reagan’s favorite periodicals– wrote that “less than three weeks after the election, the euphoria in the conservative community is already dissipating somewhat. . . [C]onservatives have a right to feel somewhat distraught.” Direct mail wizard Richard Viguerie complained to the Washington Post that “the names we’re seeing now do make us nervous. It looks like it might be old home week for the Nixon-Ford administration.” Columnist Kevin Phillips echoed Viguerie: “The President-elect seems to be leaning to a cabinet full of the same proven don’t-rock-the-vote experts who bored the nation to death during the Gerald Ford Administration.” James Reston noted in the New York Times: “It is a paradox that those who were most determined to elect Mr. Reagan now seem more worried about what he will do as President than those who opposed him.”
The thing to remember about “Washington hands” is that, for the most part, they are just that, hired hands. Like stage hands, they can put on whatever production the president has in mind — tragedy, comedy, or farce — and their ability to do so maximizes their prospects for remaining relevant in Washington.
Naturally, many Washington hands have their own ideas about what should be staged, and how. But Hayward’s excerpt is a timely reminder not to assume that familiar names mean familiar policies.
JOHN adds: Dick Cheney’s career is an object lesson in that regard.
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