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<b>Don Devine:</b> "I was standing in the cabinet room. . ."

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Reagan Tribute ExclusiveDevine: Always the Gentleman

Don Devine: “I was standing in the cabinet room. . .”

From Donald Devine:

I was standing in the cabinet room talking to a few stragglers after the President had left the meeting. We were more-or-less exchanging reflections on a recently concluded discussion of how federal employment levels were tending up after two years of success in keeping them down. Ok, we were shooting the breeze. I had done a chart presentation presenting the bad news and the President had urged the cabinet to keep within the personnel reduction figures we had set at the beginning of the administration.

You know how you can tell someone is standing behind you, even though you cannot see him? I assumed if the unknown one had something important to say, he would interrupt. Caught in the middle of a diatribe about my compulsive desire to slim the bureaucracy, I kept going.

Then, I noticed some uneasiness from those I was talking to. A few moments later, I turned around.

There was the President of the United States of America standing behind me, politely waiting for his turn! To talk to the puny personnel director! Did I feel like a fool. Ronald Reagan, recognizing my discomfort, took great pains to put me at ease.

Always the gentleman.

He volunteered what he had come to say. “Keep it up, fighting those bureaucrats, and don’t give up,” he said. Then, he turned and went about the job of running the free world.

–Dr. Donald Devine, Reagan campaign
operative in 1976 and ’80, was head of the
Office of Personnel Management in the first
Reagan Administration.
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