When Ralph Nader and his associates set out to profile 100 top officials in the Reagan administration, they asked each for an interview. Fifty-seven agreed, and their words make some of the most interesting reading in "Reagan's Ruling Class," the Naderites' 750-page book that was released yesterday.
Here is what some of the officials had to say:
Commerce Secretary Malcolm Baldrige, reflecting on the different worlds he has known: "It used to be when I was at Scovill [Inc.], some great friend of yours was married, had two kids and was trying to make a living on the rodeo circuit. He'd start off the year, he'd take maybe $2,500, $3,000 with him. I've been in campers with those guys, they'd invited me to go from Amarillo to Denver to the rodeo, and so we went up. And it was my turn to fix supper--and this is a true story--there'd be half a loaf of bread and some peanut butter in there. Period. And the guy'd say, 'Well, I got to win something in Denver.' Then you'd go home and see a vice president arguing because he didn't have a key to the washroom . . . or because his office wasn't in quite the right place or something, and it kind of puts the world in perspective . . . ."
Robert F. Burford, director of Interior's Bureau of Land Management: "I think they Washingtonians don't have any true concept of what makes this nation run . . . . They think this is the center of all action and that the viewpoint that exists within the city is really reflective of the viewpoint of the nation -- and it really isn't. Washingtonians think they're very sophisticated people and actually they're not . . . ."
Treasury Secretary Donald T. Regan, on tensions between him and Office of Management and Budget Director David A. Stockman: "I never felt that Dave and I were rivals for anything. As a matter of fact, I've offered him my job at several times and said, 'If you want it, take it. And I'll go back to the private sector and make money.' In a joshing way, naturally. And he in turn has said he doesn't want the damn job, that he's satisfied with what he's got."
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Samuel R. Pierce Jr., on school busing to achieve desegregation: "You'll find that a lot of black people don't like busing. That's something you'll find people -- both black and white -- don't like. I do know that people don't like to go a great number of miles every day. They don't like to get their kids up at 6 in the morning in order to get them to school by 8:30 or whatever it is. They feel as though it is very hard on their children. Black people feel that."
Rudolph W. Guiliani, associate attorney general: "I don't think that the reasons for crime in our society are so different as among the person who evades his income tax and the person who bops someone over the head -- the effects of that are different -- but I don't think the reasons for that are as different as a lot of people think. It's the same breakdown for the respect for the rules of law and in the way that person was brought up."
Environmental Protection Agency administrator Anne M. Gorsuch, asked why she didn't try to change her image by publicly expressing concern for environmental victims, said she found little value in "a soapbox . . . on victims. No, I really think our environmental concerns are better addressed by getting a job done as opposed to going out and making speeches about horror stories . . . ."
Arthur Hull Hayes Jr., commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, on his biggest disappointment: "The fact that . . . this last year we have had to spend so much time on budgets and new suggestions; new cuts or reorganizing what you're going to do . . . with the uncertainty and the consequent anxieties and even demoralizing effect."
James C. Miller III, chairman of the Federal Trade Commission: "And I've heard some people say if you had a $50 million budget that's tantamount to shutting down; or if you have a $25 million budget that's tantamount to shutting down. It means, no, it doesn't mean that you're shutting down, it means you're doing fewer things."