"Madame ambassador, if you have enjoyed our program this afternoon, you'll love the General Assembly," quipped Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan yesterday at the Sans Souci, where a large and loquacious group, friends and founders of the Coalition for a Democratic Majority, gathered to wish well to new U.N. Ambassador Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, a CDM founder made good, albeit in the other party.
"I don't just like it," said Kirkpatrick of the warmth of her reception, "I love it. Your expectations for me," she told the crowd, who were still munching their London broil and sole Veronique, "fill me with fear and trembling and determination."
Nothing succeeds like success, and the dining room was packed tighter than a sardine tin with people eager to hear from Kirkpatrick as well as AFL-CIO president Lane Kirkland, senators Harry Jackson and Moynihan, and Benjamin Wattenberg, political analyst and current chairman of the CDM.
The CDM consists of a small group of writers and intellectuals, mostly Democrats, who grew disenchanted in the early '70s with what they perceived as the liberalization or "McGovernization" of the Democratic Party. They consider themselves liberal on domestic issues, and hard-line on foreign policy. "A hard-liner," said Wattenberg yesterday, "is someone who found out about the Soviets before the president [Carter] did."
Among the festive 150: retired Adm. Elmo Zumwalt, the British and Israeli ambassadors; William Baroody Jr., president of the American Enterprise Institute (Kirkpatrick's think tank); Sen. Edward Zorinsky (D-Neb.) and Huber Matos, recently released from Cuban prison after 20 years and now living in Florida as president of the Congress for an Independent and Democratic Cuba (CID).
"They [Kirkpatrick and Matos] know each other very well," said a CID member at the luncheon with Matos. "She was very helpful in obtaining his release from Castro.This is a personal visit. They are personal friends."
The new ambassador got right to the point. "We've been serious Democrats, so this is a bittersweet occasion for us," said Kirkpatrick of the acceptance the CDM philosophy has found in the Reagan administration. "We were there when a new kind of liberalism spread through our party like the plague . . . a plague that involves a particular kind of arrogance, that tends to elitism, utopianism of a sort that is prepared to trade real goods for symbolic ones."
Kirkpatrick cited as "extraordinary" the perception of her as critical of human rights. "I've always insisted," she said, "on the centrality of human rights in foreign policy."
She also spoke disparagingly of "confusion about the nature of human freedom. Freedom is a precious good won by particular people at particular times. . . We must take the cure of history, the cure of reality," she said, characterizing American freedom as that based on a careful web of restraints and traditions.
"And when freedom comes to Cuba," she said, looking toward Huber Matos, (whom she welcomed as a "hero, in the same way as Solzhenitsyn" and other "heroes of our time"), "it will come not from the shouting of Castro," but from a respect for the people and traditions which "your liberation movement will make possible."
Moynihan, Kirkland, Jackson and Wattenberg spoke glowingly of Kirkpatrick, as did former congressman Rev. Robert Drinan, who delivered an invocation welcoming her into the "family of man."
The luncheon adjourned with the same kind of crowd scene that characterized its beginning. "This is like an extension of the inaugural," one man muttered as he fought his way through the crowds to the coat room.
"Hey, Ben," said NBC correspondent Richard Valeriani, "I think you overbooked."
"We did not overbook," retorted Wattenberg. "A lot of people showed up who didn't have reservations."
"That's what they tell me at USAir, Ben," said Valeriani.