Notes from Year One:
Ronald Reagan and the Senate Republican majority congratulated themselves on the first anniversary of their rule last night. Everybody agreed the past year had been good. As the president put it: "We've made gains that I don't think any of us could ever have believed possible."
But how about the last few weeks? Not so good.
On budget director David Stockman's published comments criticizing the president's economic program:
"It's just too bad he didn't have a wife to go home to so he could spill out his innermost thoughts and concerns," said Sen. Charles Percy (R-Ill.).
On national security adviser Richard V. Allen's receipt of $1,000 from Japanese journalists:
"That's a lot of rhubarb," said Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska). "But I do think the Japanese ought to stop doing that. It's a strange Japanese habit. They think they've got to give everybody something. Last time I told my secretary I wouldn't see them if they went through this gift business. I said, 'No blasted gifts!' It's just a pain in the rear to try to give them back."
On Joy Baker's evening attire:
"You look awful pretty," said her husband, Howard, the Senate majority leader.
"If anything else could have happened today, it would have," she replied.
"I hear your dress fell apart," he said.
"Yes," she replied. "The elastic."
But by 7:30 p.m. Joy Baker's maroon Halston and the party itself had pulled together. It was the Senate majority's annual dinner, this year held in the Great Hall of the Library of Congress, an awesome marble expanse of columns, statues and arches. On the ceiling were the names Herodotus, Moses, Homer, Dante, Milton, Aristotle, Goethe and so on.
The evening began with cocktails, among which you could hear murky conversation about the Senate's continuing budget resolution and its deadline of midnight tomorrow. There was also favorable reaction to Reagan's foreign policy speech yesterday. "It was an important speech," said Sen. Charles McC. Mathias Jr. (R-Md.), who then detailed some of its points on U.S.-Soviet arms negotiations. "If we had not addressed these, we could have brought down a whole series of governments in western Europe."
On Stockman, Mathias took the long view. "In the short term, he's been hurt," he said. "But the fact is, he shed some light on a situation. In the long run, he may be viewed as helpful in laying out the whole story."
"I hope David survives," said Sen. Paul Laxalt (R-Nev.), Reagan's closest friend in the Senate. "It's a wait-and-see situation."
Dinner was next, then Reagan. "As I look back on these months," he said, "and what we've accomplished -- it's been kept a secret by The Washington Post -- but the rest of the country knows . . . when the chips were down, you were there."
Reagan then told a story about a young man in college who wrote him to say he was dropping out for a year to save money so he wouldn't have to rely on government loans. Reagan also told of a letter he'd received -- in Braille -- from a blind man. "He wrote to tell me that if cutting his benefit would help his country, then go ahead and cut his benefit," Reagan said.
Then a military choir sang "America." Next came chocolate mousse. The Reagans skipped it and headed home.