Reagan moves to counter aides' gaffes
Washington — David Stockman put on the back burner. Richard Allen possibly on the verge of being ousted. President Reagan seeking to put his personnel problems behind him but, as one top administration aide concedes, still knee-deep in dealing with these irritants.
This is the Reagan presidency in the wake of Budget Director Stockman's admissions of doubt about the very economic program he was promoting and Mr. Allen's denial that he had initiated or discussed a $1,000 check he received from Japanese journalists after they had an interview with Nancy Reagan.
From high up in the administration came acknowledgment to the Monitor that the President was about to make an important countermove - ''one that cannot be disclosed at this point.''
Was it the dismissal of Allen as national security adviser? It seemed to be a move that the President was considering.
Allen called the check from the Japanese an ''honorarium.'' He said he had placed it in an office safe for eight months and had forgotten about it. Allen had earlier been a consultant to several Japanese businesses through his Potomac International Corporation.
The national security adviser is not being viewed within the White House as guilty of any wrongdoing, insiders say, but of showing poor judgment in the way he handled the check.
In a statement, Allen said he had not ''actually arranged'' the interview. ''I did receive the initial request that there be a meeting for the purpose of an interview, which I passed to others for evaluation, handling, and decision.''
He said that he had not expected to receive an honorarium - ''nor was such a matter ever raised with me by anyone at any time.''
Meanwhile, the storm over Stockman's indiscretions has not abated very much.
Stockman, unlike Allen, does not appear to be in immediate danger of being fired. Instead, a White House aide told the Monitor, the director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has been asked to keep a ''low profile.'' Because of this, Stockman pulled out of a Sunday, Nov. 15, television program commitment , he said.
No longer, this aide said, would Stockman be the ''salesman'' for the Reagan economic program. This job would be taken over by Treasury Secretary Donald T. Regan.
But Stockman would continue on as the White House representative who would testify on Capitol Hill in behalf of the budget. ''He's the one who really knows the budget,'' the aide said.
There are indications, however, that Stockman still might be asked to leave if it became clear to the President that his OMB chief simply had lost too much credibility to be a persuasive voice on the Hill.
Also, a number of political leaders around the United States have been letting the President know, in no uncertain words, that he should get rid of Stockman, that he must oust Stockman to shore up his own credibility.
Allen's shaky situation also rests on reports of his feuding with Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig Jr. Reagan recently brought the two into the Oval Office and told them there must be an end to their squabbling.
In recent days the President had gone out of his way to express his appreciation and support of Secretary Haig. By doing so, he also seemed to be saying that he was satisfied with Allen and would be keeping him on.
But now, with Allen involved in another incident that is embarrassing the White House, there are new reports that Reagan will show him the door.
Should Allen depart, a likely successor would be Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft, who served as President Ford's national security adviser.