The Reagan Team

3 minute read

Every President is heavily dependent for his success on the quality of the men and women he selects to fill the most important posts in his Cabinet and on his White House staff. In the Reagan Administration, that dependency has taken a quantum leap. By temperament and managerial choice, Ronald Reagan usually is content to chart the broadest philosophical directions for his Government and leave not only the details but much of the substantive content of policy to be developed by his advisers. When they disagree, he generally relies on them to work out a compromise among themselves; he chooses between conflicting viewpoints only when he cannot avoid doing so. Thus, far more than most Presidents, he needs a strong supporting cast to function effectively.

During his first four years, the members of Reagan’s team performed well enough to help their boss win overwhelming approval from the voters. But now the President is launching his second term with what looks like a wholesale shake-up. At least five of the 13 Cabinet departments will be getting new chiefs; by spring hardly a single member of the top White House domestic- policy staff will remain in place. The changes have come piecemeal, without any carefully thought-out plan or even conscious overall design. Moreover, they are being made at an unpropitious time, when the Administration should be concentrating on its agenda for the next four years.

But the appearance of upheaval is more than a little misleading; there is a strong element of continuity amid the changes. It is true that a few of the President’s oldest and closest associates, most notably Interior Secretary William Clark and Attorney General William French Smith, are leaving Washington entirely. But for the most part, the core of Administration movers and shakers remains intact. Some will be learning new jobs, adding a touch of unpredictability to the Administration’s actions; a few others are unsure what role they will play for how long. Nonetheless, the list of the most influential members of Reagan’s team at the start of his second term is almost exactly what it was a year or two ago. On the following seven pages, TIME presents a gallery of the President’s inner circle by official White House Photographer Michael Evans. The pictures are reprinted from Evans’ book People and Power: Portraits from the Federal Village ($29.95), to be published next month by Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York.

Like any group of strong-willed executives, they have their policy disagreements, and in some cases personal rivalries and tensions as well. But they are united by their unswerving loyalty to their chief, which he fully reciprocates. That quality is captured by the name the President’s team chose for itself while his first Administration was still being formed. Then and now, his most powerful advisers have been proud to call themselves the Reaganauts. Here they are.

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