Ronald Reagan's ears must have been burning last night at the anti-nuclear Council for a Livable World's annual congressional reception.
In fact, Doug La Follette, Wisconsin's secretary of state, was downright angry standing over by the roast beef in the Dirksen building.
At considerable expense and effort, he put together a 20-member delegation from eight states to visit Washington and let the president know that there are 11 million people in favor of the nuclear freeze. He never got close.
"We went to the White House and some nameless courier came out and said he was from the situation room, whatever that is," La Follette said last night. "All we wanted was to meet with a policy maker. You'd think that a president who has time to welcome a football team home would have time for the nuclear issue."
Last night's reception, with about 100 people attending, was for the senators and congressmen whom the council's PACs spent a half-million dollars to help reelect. The 20-year-old arms control group has always given money to the Senate. But this year, the council started Peacepac to help House members. They targeted the "Doomsday Dozen," all of whom voted against the nuclear-freeze bill last year. Four of the 12 were defeated. The bill itself was defeated by two votes and is scheduled to come up again in March.
Among those there were Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.), whose campaign got $23,200 from the group; Sen. George J. Mitchell (D-Maine), who got $23,000; Sen. Donald Riegle (D-Mich.), who got $17,000; Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.); Rep. Bob Edgar (D-Pa.); Rep. Robert J. Mrazek (D-N.Y.); and Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.)
"This administration has clearly done better in terms of rhetoric in opening up arms talks," said John Isaacs, director of the council's Washington office. "But I don't see a serious commitment . . . They may stumble into an agreement by accident."
"They're doing nothing except planning for a winnable nuclear war," said Rep. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). "They really believe we can win a nuclear war. It's scary."