Reagan theme: a 'very personal' presidency

It may well be high-powered businessmen who crack the whip in a Reagan Cabinet, but the man who runs the show will be "a very personal president." This assessment of Ronald Reagan comes from longtime aide Edwin Meese, head of the President-elect's transition team and the man widely expected to become next White House chief of staff.

The emphasis among Reagan Cabinet appointees, as expected, will be on business expertise, Mr. Meese said at breakfast with reporters here. "We're looking for someone who has experience related to managing a large conglomerate, " he added.

But on the question of whether a management-oriented administration indicates a cold-shouldered approach to meeting the needs of the average person, Meese responded:

"You can go out and make all the speeches you want to about 'We're here to help the common man," which has been done quite a bit lately on the political scene. Yet, as long as inflation continues to go up, you're not doing anything to help him.

"The purpose of government is to manage the affairs of this country so that it helps the common man," he said in an apparent variation of the "get government off our backs" theme sounded throughout the Reagan campaign.

The President-elect, he said, is a man "who understands people and knows their concerns." Reagan will be an accessible leader who will hold "relatively frequent" press conferences, Meese predicted.

During an hour-long conversation that focused mainly on the logistics of the two-month transition period. Meese also said:

* He hopes the announcement of Cabinet secretaries -- to be culled from a wide range of names now being considered -- will be made between Nov. 25 and Dec. 10.

There "may be" a spot for a Democrat in the Cabinet. But Meese refused to discuss specific names. Most important, he said, Reagan is looking for appointees "committed" to his philosophies. Independent presidential candidate John Anderson, he indicated, is not being considered for any role in the new administration.

* The President-elect is interested in considering "fully qualified" women and persons from minority groups for Cabinet posts. But the primary emphasis will be on finding individuals skilled as managers, who "have a sense of teamwork," and who are "tough enough" to execute decisions that may be unpopular with the bureaucracy or the press.

* "A great deal of attention" will be focused on putting together a task force to deal with the Iranian situation if the hostages are still being held on Jan. 20, the date of Reagan's inauguration.

* Reagan will announce on Jan. 20, or shortly thereafter, the creation of several citizens' advisory committees to "examine virtually every program in federal government" and to recommend ways to improve their efficiency and cut their cost.

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.