Conservatives in an Age of Change: The Nixon and Ford Administrations

By James Reichley | Go to book overview

4
The Nixon Team

ALTHOUGH the president is the single most important decisionmaker in almost every administration, the people he chooses for posts in his cabinet, particularly the so-called inner cabinet (State, the Treasury, Justice, and Defense), and for key jobs on the White House staff also exercise enormous authority. What sort of people did Nixon place in these important jobs? What ideological assumptions did they carry with them into the administration?

Like most of his predecessors, Nixon had made few firm decisions on executive branch personnel before his election. Aside from foreign policy, which he planned to manage from the White House, he aimed to delegate large amounts of control to the heads of the federal departments and agencies. "I've always thought," he liked to tell reporters, "this country could run itself domestically without a President. All you need is a competent Cabinet to run the country at home."1In May 1968 he told an interviewer: "I would disperse power, spread it among able people."2 On election day the identities of most of the people who were to hold these enhanced cabinet posts, as well as other important jobs in the new administration, had yet to be determined.


The Inner Circle

The most natural place for Nixon to look first for personnel--as he began forming the new administration at his transition headquarters

-59-

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