'The Quiet Man' -- Bush wins kudos as Reagan stand-in

Vice-President George Bush is playing the role of "The Quiet Man." An d his performance is receiving high grades from observers here because he is filling in for President Reagan, where needed, in such an able, restrained way.

But Mr. Bush has told confidants that the main reason he has been able to stand in for Mr. Reagan so unobtrusively is because the President, from the beginning of is administration, has kept him so well informed on all important foreign and domestic matters.

An aide to the vice-president says Bush concedes that without this remarkable relationship set up by the President everything would be new to the nation's No. 2 man -- and he might be scurrying around a bit now in an effort to get quickly informed.

In the weeks before the assassination attempt, the vice-president had attended every national security meeting and almost every other important meeting the President held. Beyond that, Bush had met with Reagan over lunch every Friday to discuss major problems.

The rise of the vice-president to quiet stardom has evoked the following reactions:

* On Capitol Hill, even the conservatives who have been suspicious of the vice-president's political philosophy are applauding the aplumb the No. 2 man has brought to his fill-in role.

In fact, Monitor conversations with conservative GOP leaders around the US have found nothing but praise for Bush's performance.

Several leaders made comments along this line: Bush, from the moment he accepted the nomination as Ronald Reagan's running mate, has shown complete loyalty to Reagan -- plus the willingness and ability to sublimate any differences he may have with the President.

* Veteran presidential watchers here are impressed by the close, personal relationship that has developed between President and vice-president after a stormy preconvention campaign where both candidates were less than complimentary about each other.

In the last administration, Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale did have some ideological differences to work out before they developed a close working relationship. But unlike Reagan and Bush, they did not have to forgive each other for comments made in the past.

* Public reaction to the vice-president's performance also has been favorable. Letters to newspaper editors and lettes to the White House have reflected this.

Again and again such letters, together with newspaper editorials on the subject, comment on the tightrope the vice-president must walk these days -- he must be competent but not too visible -- and how well Bush is keeping this delicate balance.

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