Any lame-duck presidency is sure to have some unraveling of the team as Cabinet members and other top staffers leave in the administration's final months. But that's no excuse for the actions of Secretary of Commerce William Verity.
The secretary, in violation of six-year-old Reagan policy and without telling other Cabinet members affected, apparently has been pursuing his own foreign policy.The Soviet Union has for years tried to enlist Western help in a major oil-drilling project off the Siberian coast. The U.S. State Department has argued that the West should not get involved because it would only give the Russians more power in the world market, and provide their economy with the hard cash needed to support adventures abroad.
It's not as if the Soviets need the oil. They already are one of the world's biggest exporters of oil and natural gas.
Japan, which badly needs oil, was wooed by the Russians, but under U.S. pressure has reluctantly agreed to pull back from the huge project.
Now it turns out that Verity has been lobbying the Soviet Union in behalf of an American company that wants to get involved in the Russian project.
The Japanese won't take that kindly. Verity not only didn't tell the Japanese what he was doing, he didn't tell the State Department, the Defense Department, or the Energy Department.
Verity has not jumped ship in the Reagan administration's closing months. But maybe he should be pushed overboard. At the very least, he deserves a reprimand.