Not the confessions of David Stockman
In his new book, ``The Triumph of Politics: Why the Reagan Revolution Failed,'' David Stockman tells all about his five years as budget director. Well, not quite all. Here is an exclusive peek at a chapter that was expurgated: YOU have to understand that I had absolutely nothing to do with the jellybeans themselves. I dealt only with the figures, the numbers. I'm good with numbers. I can do things with numbers that Minnesota Fats does with a cue ball. I make numbers dance. I make numbers sing.
I just abstracted the whole business on paper. It's not my fault -- the irresponsible things other people did with the jellybeans. But I'm getting ahead of my story.
What a day that was when Jimmy Carter ran out of peanuts and our club took over his tree house and brought in all those jellybeans. Wow! There was me and Mikey Deaver and Eddie Meese and Jimmy Baker and Caspar and so many others. And, of course, The Boss.
It all started out so beautifully. Everybody thought we actually had a surplus of jellybeans. That was what we all wanted to believe. Judd Wanniski, the kid with the Wall Street Journal delivery route, and Jackie Kemp, the best 12-year-old quarterback our neighborhood ever saw, knew this Arthur Laffer, and Arthur had this curve -- this Magic Predictor he had gotten by sending away two breakfast cereal box tops to Battle Creek, Mich.
The curve said we could buy more and more jellybeans without raising club dues, because the more jellybeans we bought, the more the price would go down. All we had to do to stay solvent was to cut back on milk and bread -- control the spending on items like that.
Well, I saw pretty soon that this was a goofy idea. But I was the youngest kid in the club, and I thought if we could cut back enough on milk and bread and bubble gum, just maybe . . . .
Call me a crusader. Call me an idealist.
I told The Boss the facts. The Boss isn't crazy about facts. He said, ``It'll all work out.'' That's when I knew it wouldn't work out.
The whole deal began to unravel in egoism and greed. Caspar had the stickiest hands. He wanted to melt down all the black jellybeans and mold them into the shape of ICBMs and F-111 jets. I couldn't believe this kid was planning to go to Harvard!
Jimmy Baker had a decent understanding of jellybeans. He could tell the difference between a pink jellybean and a purple jellybean, blindfolded -- and that's not easy. But he was always making compromises to keep the peace. I hate compromises. I guess I'm just not a tree-house clubman.
With Eddie Meese, it was always, ``I know this guy in New Jersey, and he can get us white jellybeans wholesale.''
Mikey Deaver just wanted to know what time it was so he could watch TV.
I was surrounded by a bunch of yes-kids and math-illiterates who never read a book -- just stared at the boob tube. What could I do? I should have gotten out earlier. I guess I'm just a loyal fella.
Now the others are saying terrible things about me -- that the jellybean deficit is my fault, that I'm a traitor to say all these things, that I've let The Boss down. I have only one answer for them. Has anybody paid you 2.4 million jellybeans to write your memoirs lately?
A Wednesday and Friday column