And you thought the race was over on Election Day. No, no, no. In fact, it wasn't until 9:51 p.m. EST Tuesday -- the moment Jimmy Carter arrived at the Sheraton-Washington to make his concession speech -- that the real race began.
Who will be in and who out in a new administration always sets off frantic jockeying in Washington, the town that gives no practice serves. Phone calls. Lunch dates. Guests lists revised. The weeding of the Rolodex.
"All the people you've momorized for the last four or eight years are all gone," says Lorraine Cooper, Washington grande dame. "So now you have to start all over again. The new people move in. The old people move out. Or become lawyers."
"I just talked to George Shultz today," says Joan Braden, a Democrat who gives dinner parties and knows Republicans, "and I teased him that everybody in Washington says he's going to be secretary of State, secretary of the Tresury and secretary of Defense. And chief of staff."
There are inherent risks in predicting the ins and outs of a Reagan-age Washinton. For one thing, personalities often have as short a half life as Georgetown restaurants. For another, a scandal or two is sure to cause casualities. And for a third, preliminary scrambling among Reagan's own players is just now under way.
But today isn't too early to start your moves. Since knowledge is power, here's what you need to know for survival -- better yet, ascendancy -- in Ronald Reagan's Double-R Washington: The Presidency
No more carrying your own bags; adjust to your station in life immediately. Compared to Carter, the man who sold the Sequoia, Reagan looks slick, or like a genial raconteur at the ranch or clubhouse. Furthermore, social guilt should not be your main topic of conversation. This is the Country Club Presidency.
Lyndon Johnson, following the Eastern sophisticate John Kennedy, looked corn pone. But in another ear, like post-Jimmy Carter, Johnson might have seemed Exciting Big Texas. The point: A presidency's style is in some degree defined by that of its predecessor. After Plains, Reagan means glamor. The Mood
Four years ago, Washington was terrified that Jimmy Carter's southerners would decimate the town like Sherman marched across Georgia. This time the mood is calmer. Just simple panic.
"You know, 'What will happen to so and so?'" says Alejandro Orfila, secretary-general of the Organization of American States. "People ask, 'Do you think he will stay, will he go home, what happens if he does. . .?" And this year, the Senate changed leadership too. More flux.
It's hard to say exactly how Reagan and Washington will take to each other. But after a while, bet on gangbusters. Really. He's the classic party mixer, be it at a Hollywood gala or a country club waltz. He's a man who could nice-guy his way into Washington the same way he nice-guyed his way into the presidency. California
The Reagans, clearly, are not rolfing and bean sprouts. They're California Money when in Los Angeles, or California Elegant Western when at Rancho del Cielo, 2 1/2 hours up the Santa Ynez Mountains.
"Very stylish," says one Los Angeles observer.
"Terribly tasteful," says Charles Wick, a longtime friend and major Reagan fund-raiser.
Prepare for entertaining that amounts to small dinners for friends at home, always with candlelight, flowers, crystal, silver and a housekeeper who does everthing. Reagan's favorite dish is macaroni and cheese, although he doesn't usually serve it to his guests. What you'll get is veal, a California wine like Cabernet Sauvignon, then chocolate mousse. The Reagans barbecue at the ranch.
Make friends with California business tycoons and Hollywood folks. Those close to the Reagans include Jimmy Stewart as well as Justin Dart, head of the $9 billion Dart and Kraft Industries. Then there are Betsy and Alfred Bloomingdale, he a theatrical producer from the department-store family and also the founder of Diner's Club. Washington
The Reagans already know a pack of Republicans here, yet another reason for a Democratic insider to fret. George and Barbara Bush know even more. Some names to watch as possible hosts, hostesses or just new faces on a new scene:
Elizabeth Taylor Warner. Longtime friend of Nancy Reagan's, now married to handsome Republican. If you can wangle an invitation, they've got a terrific farm in Virginia. Stalk her at the Wolf Trap Ball.
Sen. Paul and Carol Laxalt. He gave Reagan's nominating speech at the Republican Convention. Very close friends.
Sen. Howard and Joy Baker. The senator is in the rumored running for an administration spot, and Nancy likes Joy.
Marion Smoak, former protocol chief, and his wife, Frances. Horse people, as in estates named "Midlands" in McLean and "Alibi Farm" in Aiken, S.C. Know the Reagans from a Far Eastern trip taken years ago.
Bob Gray, of Hill and Knowlton. Longtime Washington gray eminence. Now it's his turn again.
The Fords. They pitched in.
The Kissingers. They're everywhere.
Sen. Charles and Loraine Percy. Old Reagan friends. But the senator is a regular partygoer in any administration.
Arthur Burns, former chairman of the Federal Reserve Board. Get him back on your list. The White House
What happens at the White House sets the social climate for Washington. The Carters have used state dinners and entertaining for political purposes, but the Reagans will add a gala personal style.Look for big, elegant dinners as well as small ones ("Mrs. Reagan likes to dress up," says one who remembers her from the California governor's mansion) and western-style ribs on the South Lawn.
Look, too, for the Hollywood mafia to replace the Georgia mafia, with stars like Frank Sinatra, Charlton Heston, Dean Martin, Bob Hope, Roy Rogers and Michael Landon. After dinner, they might listen to Big Band music. Or Julie Andrews, a favorite of Reagan's. Recreation
Get a horse.
Swim. The White House pool is best.
Watch television. Really, it's okay now. You can even cry at "Little House on the Prairie," because the president-elect has. The Press
The traditional honeymoon between new president and press corps can be expected, but since the press in Washington is largely Democratic, this may not last long. For your edification, those who will remain on the honeymoon include columnist George Will, James Kilpatirck and Pat Buchanan. William Safire, too. Read them. Food
Drink California wines.
Consume sweets, particularly eclairs, ice cream and candy. Nancy loves them," says Nancy Reynolds of Bendix Corp., a close friend and former press secretary. "Disgusting. She never gains a pound."
Dine on knockwurst, corned beef and cabbage, veal piccata, fresh fruits and salads, although not necessarily in the same sitting. All of the above are favorite Reagan dishes, but in order to be authentic Reagan dishes, they've got to be in small portions.
Keep a bowl of jellybeans handy. They are Reagan's well-known favorite snack. Show Biz, the Arts and the Stars
Buy tickets for comedies and big, splashy musicals. "The Reagans like to be entertained and uplifted," says Reynolds. Not so long ago, Nancy saw "Forty-Second Street" in New York and loved it. Forget Shakespeare, or at least the tragedies.
Invest in Western or American Indian art. That's for the president-elect. The soon-to-be first lady likes Oriental stuff and French Impressionists.
Read your horoscope. Reagan's an Aquarius and follows the stars like his religion, which is Presbyterian. It should follow that asking someone his or her sign at a singles bar is now acceptable. But no. This will never be acceptable. Embassies
Get invited. They turn chic under Republicans. Chic-est will be the Saudis and the British. The Neighborhoods
Move out, immediately, from Georgetwon and Dupont Circle. Head for Potomac first, then McLean and Spring Valley. Land is essential, although the Watergate, despite history, is still highly acceptable. Fashion
Wear pink. Best yet, wear Pappagallo pink.
Buy Chanel cardigans, black velvet, real jewelry, Aldolfo suits, kid pumps.
In winter, wool flannel.
Acquire dignified wrinkles. As Lauren Bacall said, "I earned every one of them." The Future
Good luck. But remember, all of the above are advisories -- simple projections based on the best available data. The really smart thing to do between now and the inaugural is to study carefully. Then pounce.
You have nothing to lose but your southern accent.