Presidential Transitions, December 1980

Some observations on a president-elect’s Cabinet nominees

Regarding the Secretary of State appointment: “He took a calculated risk there. That’s not all bad. He showed some backbone.”
Regarding the Secretary of Defense appointment: “He’s going to be on a defense spending tear, but the fact is he has selected someone who’ll look at waste. That’s good.”

These two quotes are not about Rex Tillerson and James Mattis, Donald Trump’s nominees for State and Defense in December 2016. Instead, they come from Neil MacNeil’s reporting on Ronald Reagan’s nominees, Alexander Haig and Casper Weinberger.

In covering the transition from Jimmy Carter’s administration to Reagan’s, MacNeil filed four other stories related to Cabinet appointments in December 1980: David Stockman to the Office of Management and Budget; Richard Schweiker to Health and Human Services; Alexander Haig to State; and John Block to Agriculture.

MacNeil’s December 24 story, reproduced at the link below, noted that “one of the problems is that the Washingtonians only know a few of the Reagan Cabinet—and they are awaiting the coming of the outsiders, whom they have yet to meet.” The Time Magazine Capitol Hill correspondent also quoted one veteran lobbyist: “It looks like a businessman’s Cabinet. It looks like it reflects Reagan’s complex soul. He’s got all the contradictions in Reagan wrapped up in that Cabinet.”

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