David Stockman's famous trip to the woodshed was prompted...

WASHINGTON -- David Stockman's famous trip to the woodshed was prompted not so much by his startling comments in a magazine article but by White House 'hangmen' who wanted to kill a bad story, said excerpts from his new book released Saturday.

The former budget director also says in 'The Triumph of Politics: Why the Reagan Revolution Failed' that it was White House chief of staff James Baker -- not President Reagan -- who hollered at him for his remarks to The Atlantic Monthly.


Excerpts of Stockman's book were published in Newsweek magazine and released Saturday. The magazine will publish a second set of excerpts next week.

In the November 1981 Atlantic Monthly article, Stockman said supply-side economics -- the backbone of the Reagan economic revolution - was a 'Trojan horse' that would ultimately benefit the rich.

The press seized upon his remarks as a big story and Stockman writes that White House imagemakers -- especially deputy chief of staff Michael Deaver -- wanted him fired for betraying the president.

Baker called him into his White House office and told him in no uncertain terms that Reagan's inner circle wanted him fired.

''If it weren't for me,' he continued, 'you'd be a goner already. But I got you one last chance to save yourself. So you're going to do it exactly like I tell you. Otherwise, you're finished around here,'' Stockman writes.

''You're going to have lunch with the president. The menu is humble pie. You're going to eat every last ... spoonful of it. ... When you go through the Oval Office door, I want to see that sorry ass of yours dragging on the carpet.''

Stockman writes, 'Baker wasn't behind it. The hangmen were the others -- especially Deaver. That was how they operated. Reality happened once a day on the evening news. They were now going to kill last night's bad story.'

Stockman did have lunch with Reagan, who with moist eyes asked, 'Dave, how do you explain this? You have hurt me. Why?'

Stockman said he related to Reagan his boyhood and his political growth and told the president he was sorry for hurting him. Upon emerging from the lunch, Stockman told reporters he had been taken 'to the woodshed' -- a reference to punishment meted out during his youth on his parents' Michigan farm.

He said the episode taught him to caution against 'intellectual hubris. ... the false belief that in a capitalist democracy we can peer deep into the veil of the future and chain the ship of state to an exacting bluepring. It can't be done. It shouldn't have been tried.'

Latest Headlines