Ken Taylor has received a Congressional Medal of Honor, dozens of awards and 16 keys to American cities over the past year and a half. But last night the former Canadian ambassador to Iran, who became a hero when he hid six Americans at his Tehran embassy during the hostage crisis and then helped them escape, was finally honored by one of his own here--Canadian Ambassador Allan Gotlieb.
"I guess Canadians are just very deliberate and cautious," said Taylor, whose celebrity has raised his name as a possible candidate for Canadian prime minister, as he greeted well-wishers at the sprawling residence of the Canadian ambassador on Rock Creek Drive.
"I think the emotional impact was simply greater here in America than in Canada," said Gotlieb. "Of course we are proud of what he did, but it is deeply felt in a special way in the United States."
The evening could best be described as a black-tie barbecue for a weighty slice of Washington insiders. The possibility of rain teased all night.
"I'm not properly dressed," lamented Washington cave-dweller Joe Alsop, who arrived in a black suit, pink shirt and bow tie. "Joan Braden told me we were not supposed to dress. I always feel foolish when I'm improperly dressed."
"Well, you look fine," consoled writer Elizabeth Drew. "You're the only one that feels that way."
A Turkish chef grilled Columbia River salmon, shrimp and lamb shish kabob on the patio as guests in designers' finest lined up for a buffet dinner.
"They say this is Canadian salmon, but I'm not sure I believe them," advised Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker to socialite Ina Ginsburg. "I don't see how the salmon could have gotten up there through all those dams we built." He was joking.
"Hurry up," interrupted Tom Braden to Ginsburg. "You're sitting next to me, and I'm all alone at the table."
"What's the matter, don't you like being a lonely guy?" quipped Volcker.
"Talk about being lonely," said Braden. "You're probably the loneliest guy in government. Every time something goes wrong the administration gets down on you, and every time something goes right the Democrats are down on you." Everyone chuckled knowingly.
Although the evening took on a predominantly social tone, the situation in the world, as well as right up the street, interfered slightly. For one, several senators canceled at the last minute due to a scheduled vote on the Voting Rights Act.
"What'll I do?" fretted Sondra Gotlieb.
"Simply don't worry," counseled Joan Braden. "Everyone will have a nice time anyway.
There was fleeting talk of the Falklands and the Mideast crisis, although no one seemed in the mood to get too serious. "No comment," said Sol Linowitz, the United States' former Mideast negotiator, when first asked about the current crisis. "Well, I will say this, if the U.S. and countries involved give it their priority, there might be a chance for peace. This is a moment when the U.S. is center stage."
After an elaborate dessert of maple-walnut ice cream mold, well-known Canadian comedian David Broadfoot entertained the 70 or so guests in the drawing room.
"I'm just delighted to be at the home of the world's most responsible people," Broadfoot told his captive audience. "With everything that happens in the world, you just always hear that Washington is responsible."