Reagan's team: no big shake-up in sight
Washington — A senior White House aide recently passed along to the President some stories about upcoming major personnel changes in the administration. Mr. Reagan's face remained expressionless as he quickly put them aside. It was his way, his aide said, of dealing with items that he feels are so valueless that he simply won't take time to comment.
The fact is that Mr. Reagan is not contemplating any big shifts in personnel. True, some cabinet members, like Commerce Secretary Malcolm Baldrige, Transportation Secretary Drew Lewis, Education Secretary Terrel H. Bell, and HUD Secretary Samuel R. Pierce Jr. may decide that they want different challenges. But the President, according to all present indications, is not planning to ask for any resignations - in the cabinet or the White House.
In the White House key presidential aide Michael Deaver talks about going back to his old job. But Mr. Reagan may well persuade this valuable assistant to remain on.
Behind the rumors of a big Reagan-initiated administration shake-up are the persistent media stories about a President supposedly disgruntled about election results. Mr. Reagan, these stories say, got terrible advice on strategy: He should have lashed out at the liberal Democrats for obstructing his supply-side, spending-cut programs instead of pushing his ''stay-the-course'' theme. Those unnamed advisers, the stories assert, put the President on the defensive when he could have been on the offensive, blaming the Democrats for the delay in the economic re-covery.
So, these accounts insist, the President has become soured on some high-level advisers. Heads, they say, will roll.
''What some people just don't understand,'' one highly placed administration official says, ''is that the President is very happy with the first two years of his administration, including the results of the election. So when you understand that, then you can see why the President isn't even thinking about removing people who have helped bring about the results of these two years.''
Another White House senior official says: ''The President hasn't even had a discussion of the subject of high-level personnel. And there is not assessment of this nature on the agenda.''
''Sure,'' concedes another key White House aide, ''the President might have plans for personnel changes that he hasn't confided to his trusted aides, or at least some of them. But that isn't his style. He would normally discuss matters of this kind - ask for advice, etc. He could be fooling us. But I just don't believe it.''
''How about Secretary of Labor Donovan?'' this reporter asked one Reagan associate. ''Haven't the two years of damaging probes into his alleged ties with organized crime made it necessary for the President to ask him to step down?''
''No,'' came the answer. ''The President, as you know, is particularly loyal to those who work for him. If Donovan had been found guilty of something - well then the President would have acted. But short of that - it's not at all likely. Pushing people out is not the President's style of operation.''
For months now there have been persistent rumors that OMB chief David Stockman was on his way out. ''If he leaves,'' said this same top Reagan hand, ''it will be his own idea. This President isn't planning to tell him to go.''
Then there are the stories about presidential counselor Edwin Meese being in disfavor among his high-level colleagues in the White House. The latest of these so-called ''horse's mouth'' disclosures has two of the President's ''Big Four'' aides, James Baker and Michael Deaver, going to Meese and telling him he should leave for the good of the admini-stration.
The fact is that Mr. Meese is riding high with the President. Further, there is no discord among the Big Four. And, further still, Messrs. Baker and Deaver have the highest regard for Mr. Meese and the job he is doing.
So the rumors fly. The beat goes on. And the President just isn't giving any time to all this nonsense.