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Gergen Criticizes White House Staff : Ex-Reagan Aide Raps Regan on His Exit

Associated Press

David R. Gergen, once President Reagan’s assistant for communications, criticized White House Chief of Staff Donald T. Regan today for putting his own interest in making a graceful exit ahead of the President’s need to appear in control of the Administration.

Gergen, now editor of U.S. News & World Report, also said the White House staff has acted “reprehensively” in allowing a private dispute between Regan and First Lady Nancy Reagan to become public.

Gergen, appearing on NBC-TV’s “Today” show, said the feud between Regan and the First Lady implied that the President was a bystander in his own Administration.

“I think on that score, they (the White House staff) have acted reprehensively,” Gergen said. “It’s just incredible to me that one of the first rules of behavior for any staff is not to insult the First Lady and not to put the President of the United States in a position where he looks like he’s having to choose between his best friend--his chief of staff--and his wife.”

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On the issue of Regan’s expected departure from the White House staff, Gergen said the chief of staff probably should have left late last year. But because he didn’t, Gergen said, he’s become “the lightning rod for all the criticism.”

“I think that the reasons that Mr. Regan is staying have a lot more to do with his own personal reputation and trying to escape with a graceful exit than a real service to the President,” Gergen said.

“I think when you’ve gotten into this posture, when an entire Administration appears to be collapsing . . . that’s doing the President no favors,” he added.

Gergen worked in the Reagan Administration for about two years, quitting in December, 1983, to teach at Harvard University.

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