The Importance of Donald Regan
Jude Wanniski
December 4, 1986, 9:30 a.m.


At the current stage of the Iran/Contra crisis there now seems almost unanimous agreement in Washington, among Democrats, Republicans, liberals and conservatives, that Donald Regan should resign in the interests of the nation, the President, the GOP, common decency, etc., etc. The President is alone in wanting Regan to stay, except for Polyconomics. We agree with the President. The only reason for Regan to resign is if he knew of the Poindexter/North Contra operation: Our best sources guess he did not, that instead it was a maverick North operation that Poindexter learned about after it was underway, and that he did not pass it upstairs.

If Regan did not know, then the reason suggested for his forced resignation is that he "let the President down." In fact, Regan has been one of the chief reasons for RR's success in the past six years, the only top member of the Administration, even including Bill Casey, who has devoted himself to RR and RR's electoral mandate! The President is well aware of this, and should be able to guess that the firestorm around Regan has little to do with the Iran/Contra situation and much to do with the opposition to the Reagan Revolution. Both GOP and Democratic opponents of RR's policies, seeing a chance to get Regan out and their man in for the duration of the RR presidency. If Regan is squeezed out NOW, the Mondale-Stockman-Shultz-arms control-tax-increase players will have a big vote in determining the new White House chief of staff. The two names mentioned most, Drew Lewis (a Nancy favorite) or Rep. Dick Cheney (who was President Ford's chief of staff) are both subtle, but determined, opponents of the Reagan Revolution. Senior members of the Old Guard, they both would turn the next two years into budget-balancing, arms-control years. (Lewis has said this publicly.) The President would have little say in the matter, the way the wise men would arrange the selection process. We'd see a "struggle" between the Lewis and Cheney factions. If RR sticks by Regan, as he has so far, Regan can plan an orderly departure over the next three months and play the central role in picking his successor, someone who would represent the President, and not the Mondale wing of the GOP. Our choice would be Richard Darman, a very long shot now, but not if the way is prepared. Regan last week closed on a new home in Florida, suggesting he may have been preparing for departure in an orderly fashion, but he can't leave RR to the wolves. We were delighted, by the way, that Frank Carlucci got the NSC post, a win for Bill Casey. We believe Carlucci a Rumsfeld protege is an SDI advocate, and suspect the signals that this win sent to Wall Street helped the 43-point splurge the day of RR's speech on the special prosecutor. But Shultz has already gone to work on Carlucci, softening him up if that's possible for the real agenda of an arms deal in '87 with Gorby. And of course Shultz wants his "old friend" Regan out because he, Shultz, betrayed the White House early in the crisis, and if Regan does survive, Shultz will not. So root for Regan!