Dana Rorhrabacher, a White House speechwriter, provided the musical introduction, strumming a guitar and singing his own lyrics: Here we are in Washington, Cutting budgets and havin' fun, Pray for liberals when you go to Mass, Nofziger's in town and he's kicking . . .
Last night in the grand ballroom of the Mayflower Hotel, they were all conservatives, and mostly it was White House political director Lyn Nofziger who was getting kicked -- appropriately, though. He was the roastee.
The Young Americans for Freedom asked conservatives to come up with $50 a plate for the Nofziger roast, and they sold out. There were tables in the aisles, on the balcony above, almost out the doors.
"I don't know what they're going to do with all the money," President Reagan said in a tape-recorded testimonial, "but I hope they buy Lyn a new suit."
Nofziger was Reagan's press secretary when Reagan was the governor of California, and has been in the backrooms of conservative politics long enough for his habits to be well known. His manner of dress, for example, and his fondness for Bombay gin.
"Lyn was left in a basket with Bonzo on the Reagans' porch," said Vice President Bush's press secretary, Pete Teeley. "There was a note pinned onto him that said, 'The chimp eats bananas.I drink Bombay gin.'"
And, of course, his balding head, goatee and considerable paunch are obvious targets.
"In his high school class," said Sen. Alfonse D'Amato (R-N.Y.), "Lyn was voted Most Likely to Eat."
"He kind of reminds you of a senatorial debate," said Rep. Robert Dornan (R-Calif.). "You know, wondering when does life begin."
Sen. Robert Dole (R-Kan.) suggested Nofziger cut off his goatee. "I wouldn't throw it away, though. I'd plant it. Maybe it'd come up with another face."
Dole, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, took the opportunity to thank Nofziger publicly for something he hadn't had a chance to privately. "I want to thank you for that strategy on the Social Security bill," Dole said. "Lyn, from what I've heard, you may well be one of the early retirees."
"This evening," said General Services Administrator Gerald Carmen, "is turning out like I thought it would: a waste of time. I can tell by looking at who's here how distinguished you really are, Lyn. I'm just sorry that, Secretary [of Labor, Ray] Donovan and Sen. Dole didn't get invited to the state dinner tonight."