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September 24, 1982 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1982-09-24

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A

OPINION

Page 4

Friday, September 24, 1982

The Michigan Daily

Reagan's men: Full pockets, closed minds

Is the Reagan administration out of
touch with reality? Have top government
officials formed an isolated, affluent club
that ignores public opinion?
Yes, charge the authors of the recently-
released Reagan's Ruling Class: Portraits of the
President's Top 100 Officials. Ronald Brown-
stein and Nina Easton, staff writers for
Ralph Nader, profiled officials in the
federal bureaucracy and found "a gover-
nment cadre of extraordinarily broad
wealth, narrow vision, and little com-
passion." Brownstein and Easton, in Ann
Arbor to support the nuclear arms freeze,
spoke to Daily editor Julie Hinds about
their findings.

streamlining their agencies. There's little sen-
se of public service about them.
Daily: What interest group cropped up the
most?
Brownstein: Business. The New York Times
calculated from the book that 23 officials were
drawn from the industries they are now
regulating. Dozens more come from the cor-
porate milieu-lawyers, lobbyists. One person
described the Reagan administration as a car-
nival of lobbyists. You now have the chief lob-
byist of the national cattlemen's association
running meat safety laws.
Clearly, Reagan wants to turn the regulatory
agencies over to the businesses they're
regulating.
Daily: Much has been written about the
strange matchups in the cabinet-Watt for the
Interior and Donovan, a former construction
company executive, for Labor. Does that sort
of matching run down the ranks of the ad-
ministration?
Easton: It goes way down. It gees down to the
Bureau of Land Management, where the head
of that is a former rancher, part of this
Colorado mafia. He fought that agency as a
rancher and was fined for over-grazing his cat-
tle. Now he's loosening grazing policy to help
his friends.
Daily: From your examination, did you come
away thinking the appointments were a con-
scious effort to change government policy or
just insensitivity on Reagan's part?
Brownstein: It's very clear it was conscious.
When the kitchen cabinet, which directed the
selection process, got together, they were
looking for three criteria: One, is he conser-
vative, two, is he a Reagan man, three, is he a
team player.
Daily: Doesn't that sort of thing happen in
every administration?
Easton: One striking difference between this
administration and even previous Republican
administrations is the lack of an in-house critic.

There isn't anyone substantial who can say,
"Hey, wait a minute, this isn't going to work."
A good example of this is the Bob Jones
University tax exemptionsfiasco. That went all
the way from William Bradford Reynolds, head
of the civil rights division, a millionaire, white,
no personal background in discrimination, to
William French Smith, who has a very similar
background. What happened is it got through
and it opened the president for the first time to
actual charges of racism. Nobody along that
chain of command said, "Stop, this isn't a good
idea."
Daily: What about women and miniroties
within the administration? Do they act as in-
house critics?
Easton: The five women in the top 100, for
example, don't have a shared background.
Jeanne Kirkpatrick, for example, wrote a book
in 1975 about the dearth of women in high public
office. It's ironic now that she's in an ad-
ministration that doesn't do it. Anne Gorsuch,
however, is an example of someone with a
mean-spirited Horatio Alger ethic, a sort of "I
made it. Anyone else can" attitude. But Gor-
such came from a wealthy family. The doors
were open for her.
Brownstein: The book also reveals that
Samuel Pierce, the secretary of housing and
urban development, the only black man in the
cabinet, is deeply disturbed personally over the
administration's civil rights policy. He goes on
the record for the first time with that com-
plaint.
Daily: Does Reagan himself fit into this
profile?
Brownstein: He's been in this milieu all his
adult life. Reagan fits in just from sheer
isolation from everyday reality. He's the sort of
man who says the Great Society hurt the poor.
The abstraction from reality, from human suf-
fering, runs all through the cabinet, from the
president on down.
Easton: In our analysis of the White House,
we say that one of the main responsibilities of

r. 2
Daily Photo by DEBORAH LEWIS
f a book profiling the Reagan administration,
d themselves from public opinion.
Their view of the public was starkly expressed
by the president when he said the public knows
all it needs to know about Alexander Haig's
resignation. They are consistently doing their
best to limit public access to information.
Daily: Did any of the top 100 get in touch with
you after the book was'released?
Brownstein: Two wrote to say they thoughts
their profiles were very good, two others called
to say they thought the quotes-which we
taped-were inaccurate, and two called to see
if we would autograph the book.
Dialogue is a weekly feature of the
Opinion Page.

Daily: What common denominators did you
find among members of the Reagan ad-
ministration?
Brownstein: Several clear patterns emerged
of what Reagan is trying to do to the gover-
nment. The most obvious is that this is a white,
male, wealthy government. Of the top 100 of-
ficials, 98 are white, 95 are male, and almost 30
are millionaires, 20 of them multi-millionaires.
Also, I think, there is a striking lack of com-
passion among Reagan appointees that grows
from insularity. They are drawn from a very
narrow strata of American life; they don't
know about the problems they're supposed to
deal with. When you speak to them about what
they hope to accomplish, they don't speak of
alleviating suffering, they speak of

Nina Easton and Ronald Brownstein, co-authors o
charge that the president's top officials have isolate
White House aides, though it's unspoken, is to
protect Reagan from himself. Some of the
decisions that have raised the most furor-Bob
Jones, the move to cut Social Security-were
all made by Reagan personally. And of course
there are his misstatements and blunders. The
staff has to keep cleaning up after him.
Daily: How is the Reagan administration
checked? Through embarrassment? Does
public opinion filter up at all?
Easton: I don't think it filters up at all.
Brownstein,: Look at their reaction to the
nuclear freeze. They look at it not as if it
represents a genuine urge on the part of the
American people, but as if it comes from
people who are manipulated, ill-informed.

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Vol. XCIII, No. 14

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board

Oops, n
REMEMBER last month, when
everyone got so upset that a
private in the U.S. Army on duty in
Korea was "being held" by the North
Koreans? Remember how there were
ominous intonations that the North
Koreans had crept over the border and
captured that poor G.I.? Remember
how the United States was making a
big deal out of being able to talk to the
service man to see where he really
wanted to be?
Shucks.
It now turns out that the soldier, Pfc.
Joseph White, formerly of St. Louis,.
probably crossed the border of his own
volition. That's right, after the big
stink they made, the army has decided
that he wasn't kidnapped after all.
Army officials say a three-week in-
vestigation uncovered that White had a
"large amount" of North Korean
propaganda among his belongings, and
that, when he crossed into the

ver mind
demilitarized zone, he did so shouting,
"I'm coming, help me! "-in Korean.
All of which raises some interesting
questions-which will probably remain
unanswered: Did anyone in the vast
apparatus of the U.S. army think of
poking through White's belongings
before suggesting he had been abduc-
ted? Why, if White was yelling for
help in Korean as he crossed the bor-
der, did the army suspect that he was
not going freely? How did a "large
amount" of North Korean literature
escape the watchful eyes of White's
superiors?
And what of the army? Will this
episode inspire any healthy introspec-
tion? Any investigation into what
makes soldiers really happy? Any
glance at why a soldier could consider
leaving the cozy confines of the army?
No, the army's response is a little
more subtle than that. In fact, it can be
summed up in one phrase.
Oops, never mind.

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LETTERS TO THE DAILY:

Reviewing the reporting on ISMRRD

To the Daily:;
I want to respond to the
editorial and news article on the
public hearing for the Institute
for the Study of Mental Retar-
dation ("Ignore the issue: It's
only your school" and "Institute's
profs charge review panel with
bias," Daily, Sept. 23).
First, in terms of the editorial,
everyone appearing at the
hearing, those on the institute
staff as well as outside speakers,
spoke strongly on the strengths of
the program and its contributions
to the University, the state, and
the nation. Highlighted were the
institute's nationally-known con-

The concerns that I and other
members of my staff expressed,
were that these documents were
not fully considered in the review
process. It is our hope and expec-
tation that they be carefully read
by the executive officers before a
final decision is made.
Secondly, I wish to comment on
a quote in the news article
attributed to Dr. Julius Cohen
which, I believe, was taken out of
context. Cohen was describing
some of the inherent problems
and weaknesses in the review
process as it is currently
operated. He was pointing out the
problems faculty members face

units. He did not say that the
members of the institute review
committee recommended
ISMRRD be eliminated to spare
their own units from future
budget cuts.
Regarding your statement that
Dr. Eugene Handley said that the
review was "unfair because
some of the institute's staff
members felt they would be bet-
ter off if ISMRRD closed" misses
the point which he raised. He
commented that certain staff had
a vested interest in the closing of
the institute because of their
desire to return full-time to their
academic departments. Thus, the
staiff was dividped in their siinnort

recommended that CDC be tran-
sferred to another unit, with the
receiving unit paying for the cost
of the services. It was that
modification, requiring a
receiving unit to pay for the
operation, that I believe would be
the "kiss of death" for CDC.
Without a core of support, I do not
believe the clinic can survive.
-Herbert Grossman,
Director, Institute
for the Study of
Mental Retardation
Sept. 23

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