Baker appointment means opportunity

When a scandal occurs, sooner or later the axe is going to fall on someone—but hopefully the cut will be clean and the survivors can pick up the pieces and get back to business.

In the wake of the Tower Report that resulted from an investigation into the Iran-contra affair, White House Chief of Staff Donald Regan’s head was on the chopping block. And it rolled.

Regan resigned Friday and was replaced by former Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker.

The Tower Report soundly criticized everyone involved in the scandal from Lt. Col. Oliver North and John Poindexter to President Ronald Reagan.

The report, however, was most critical of Regan, stating, “He must bear primary responsibility for the chaos that descended upon the White House.” Regan also was blamed for the lack of communication between the National Security Council and Reagan that worsened the situation.

Surely the lack of communication was an impediment in straightening out the whole affair and Regan deserves his fair share of the blame. He did an inadequate job. But the president, too, failed to communicate with Regan.

And now that the report has been issued and everything has been laid on the line, the president must communicate. He is in a position to start over with a new chief of staff and he must see to it that a better line of communication is set up between him and Baker than existed with Regan.

The Iran scam has cast a shadow over the institution of the presidency that will not be lifted easily. But if it is to ever be lifted, Reagan cannot work with Baker in the same way he dealt with Regan. Nor can he continue to be oblivious to what the rest of his staff is doing.

Because of his experience with Congress and his general knowledge of world affairs, Baker was a wise choice to replace Regan. Now he must assert his wisdom in the White House and see to it all staffers are working in conjunction with one another rather than acting on their own.

It was definitely time for a change. Reagan could not afford to have Regan bumbling about the White House any longer.

opefully, now Reagan and Baker will act in unison to bring order back to Washington. If they do, Reagan can salvage something out of his final two years in office and point the country back down the path of respectability.

If they don’t, they can expect an invitation to visit the hatchet man next.