Ronald Reagan's favorite newspaper had a party last night, so naturally it was well-attended by smart aides who know it's important to read and court what the president clips and dog-ears.
Its name is Human Events, the conservative weekly and one-time four-page newsletter. Three Cabinet members, the White House lawyer, a White House speech-writer and the secretary of the navy, among others, turned up to celebrate by the vegetable dip and moodily lit Jacuzzi.
"Have our wildest dreams come true?" said Allan Ryskind who, compared with Thomas Winter, is the more talkative of the newspaper's two owners. "Well, it's pleasant. I mean the fact that you do have a certain amount of pull is, ahhh, nice."
Lately the pull has extended into continuous complaints about the moderates running the White House, most notably chief of staff James A. Baker III. Baker was on the guest list, and for a while everybody thought he might appear for a love-fest or showdown. But no. The party percolated smoothly along, composed of several hundred other socially agreeable Republicans.
Among them was Rep. Jack Kemp (R-N.Y.), the well-known supply-sider who praised Ryskind as one of the original promulgators of that economic theory.
"Oh sure, oh sure," said Ryskind, beaming.
"Even though it's failed miserably?" asked Kemp.
"Oh sure, oh sure," said Ryskind.
"I was being facetious," Kemp said to a reporter.
The party was given by Kemp and four others: Conservative columnist M. Stanton Evans, White House Fellows program director James Roberts, Young America's Foundation president Ronald Robinson and Edward Dent, director of Americans for the National Voter Initiative amendment. All have been supported, or reprinted, by Human Events. "The occasion," said Dent, "is to honor two great guys."
But the guys were surprised. "All of this was sprung on us," said Winter, not displeased. "All of the invitations were sent out and all of this was done behind our backs."
It was also an occasion to promote both the newspaper and conservatives, a Washington species whose members are enjoying a renaissance they know might be temporary. So they happily drank, chortled and dismissed what could be an ominous future in next fall's elections.
"We didn't take 20 years to get thrown out of town in two," said Hugh Newton, a public relations consultant with the conservative Heritage Foundation.
The party was held at Dent's house in, of all strange places for conservatives, Georgetown. Nobody missed the irony; in fact, Democratic statesman Averell Harriman's house was just a few blocks away. "We're having a party in Georgetown!" said Pat Buchanan, Richard Nixon's former speech-writer. "From here it's straight on up."
The house was long and narrow. Wandering from front to back you found the living room with a grandfather clock, the dining room with cheeses, etc., the kitchen with the catered help, the exposed brick solarium with a glowing fire, and then the tent-covered patio with more food, a bass player, a guitar player and, behind them, the Jacuzzi. Everybody was too dressed up and polite to consider using it.
The Cabinet members who came were Attorney General William French Smith, Health and Human Services Secretary Richard Schweiker and Transportation Secretary Drew Lewis. Secretary of the Navy John Lehman, White House speech-writer Anthony Dolan and White House counsel Fred Fielding were there, too. Fielding kept his mouth shut by the fire; a few feet away, M. Stanton Evans opened his about White House moderates.
"I like Jim," he said of Baker, "but he's sort of the highest level one of the moderates in the White House, so he becomes a symbol . . . they could appoint hari krishnas and bag ladies, if they could get the job done."