"We are not job seekers in our crowd," said Richard Allen, President-elect Ronald Reagan's foreign policy adviser during the campaign. "Our aim isn't jobs and power. It's a solid foreign policy. I could walk away happily on Jan. 20 seeing this had happened." Allen reflected the mood of happy anticipation that reigned at a quiet dinner party in Bethesda last night.
The guest of honor was Jeane Kirkpatrick, a political scientist with the American Enterprise Institute; the host was Ernest Lefever, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center; the dinner was at the home of his friend, lawyer Richard Schifter and wife Lilo.
The guest list, like a good after-dinner drink, was short and powerful and distinguished: Walter Laqueur, Center for Strategic and International Studies; John O'Sullivan, editor of Policy Review; Bruce MacLaury, president of the Brookings Institution; and Michael Novak, also of AEI. Potential Reagan appointees were present -- not that anyone was admitting anything, discretion being the better part of valor during the transition period.
Allen, who briefly left the Reagan campaign but was reinstated after the election, arrived fresh from a meeting of 120 of the nascent administration's defense and foreign policy advisers. He has been mentioned as a possible national security adviser to Reagan. Last night he played down interest in that spot or any other.
"I've been to the White House before. I'm not terribly interested. I like my family life. There are competing forces for my allegiance."
Kirkpatrick presented her views later in the evening on U.S.-Latin American relations. Her fortunes have been on the rise ever since a critique she wrote of U.S. foreign policy caught Allen's eye. He recommended her paper "Dictatorhsips and Double Standards" to Reagan, who was reportedly impressed. The two met shortly after that, and Kirkpatrick has been on the Reagan bandwagon ever since. "I like him, I really do," said Kirkpatrick of Reagan. "He's warm and direct. He's not one of those people who gets glazed eyes when he talks to a woman."
In recent weeks, Kirkpatrick's has been mentioned as a possible appointee to a high-level position in the Reagan administration, such as ambassador to the United Nations. At one point last night Lefever buttonholed Allen to say that in his opinion Kirkpatrick would make an excellent Supreme Court justice.
Dressed in bright turquoise, Kirkpatrick stood by quietly, spearing her beef burgundy and string beans, and professing some discomfort at her rise to prominence. She accepted congratulations and praise throughout the evening from guests like Fred Ikle, a former director of the Arms Control Disarmament Agency, now a high-level Reagan adviser. According to Allen, he is also chief staff director of the 14-member Interim Foreign Policy Board.
Other guests included Edward Luttwak, a defense expert from Georgetown University's Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Reagan adviser, and a self-described "insignificant nuts-and-bolts consultant." "I don't believe scribblers like myself should be involved in politics," he said, balancing his plate and glass. "It's like caviar. Very nice, but only in small quantities."
The evening went on amiably, as the crowd, pleased and sweetened by the Reagan victory and chocolate Tia Maria pie, swapped jests about the days to come. "I only want to be vice consul in Florence," Luttwak mocked-confessed to Allen.
"Don't you mean pro consul?" said Allen with a laugh, as the guests adjourned to the basement to hear Kirkpatrick's brief lecture on South America, an area which she said will be given "high priority" in Reagan's foreign policy.