What Regan says about the Reagan White House
Following are excerpts from Donald Regan's book, ``For the Record: From Wall Street to Washington'': Virtually every major move ... the Reagans made during my time as White House chief of staff was cleared in advance with a woman in San Francisco who drew up horoscopes to make certain that the planets were in a favorable alignment for the enterprise.
Nancy Reagan seemed to have absolute faith in ... this woman, who had predicted that ``something'' bad was going to happen to the President shortly before he was wounded in an assassination attempt in 1981.
At one point, I kept a color-coded calendar on my desk (numerals highlighted in green ink for ``good'' days, red for ``bad'' days, yellow for ``iffy'' days) as an aid to remembering when it was propitious to move the President of the United States from one place to another, or schedule him to speak in public, or commence [foreign] negotiations....
There was no choice but to humor the First Lady in this matter. But the President's schedule is the single most potent tool in the White House, because it determines what the most powerful man in the world is going to do and when he is going to do it....
The President was deeply concerned about the hostages, but an inventory of the time he spent on this problem in a given month would undoubtedly show a very low total - minutes rather than hours.
Much of what happened was hidden from the President (and incidentally from me) by [Robert] McFarlane and his successor as national security adviser, Adm. [John] Poindexter, and by the remarkable young marine who was a virtual stranger to both of us, Lt. Col. Oliver L. North.
On Nov. 12, only nine days after the story broke, the pressure from the Hill was so great that the President [had] to talk to a congressional delegation. ... The President told them that we had, in fact, supplied arms to Iran, but it was only a small amount and we had not swapped arms for hostages. ... There is no question in my mind that he believed that he was telling the truth.
The President ... is a ruddy man, with bright red cheeks. He blanched when he heard [Attorney General Edwin] Meese's words. The color drained from his face. ... Nobody who saw the President's reaction that afternoon could believe for a moment that he knew about the diversion of funds before Meese told him....
Mrs. Reagan, who had already shown signs of irritability, now became angry. ... `You're more interested in protecting Bill Casey than in protecting Ronnie!' she cried. `He's got to go. He can't do his job; he's an embarrassment to Ronnie. He should be out.'
The President himself sent out no strong signals. He listened, encouraged, deferred. But it was a rare meeting in which he made a decision or issued orders.
In the four years that I served as secretary of the Treasury, I never saw President Reagan alone and never discussed economic philosophy or fiscal and monetary policy with him man to man.
My admiration for Reagan as president remains very great. My judgment of him as a man, in light of my final experience as his chief of staff, underwent a certain change, but this is irrelevant. ... Any man who had seen as much of the world as I had seen ... knew better than to put his trust in princes.