Aides had to drag Ronald and Nancy Reagan upstairs to bed last night, pulling them away from the first state dinner since the landslide last week. They were relaxed, they were beaming, they had won. The election bubbled up again and again in conversation, like a compliment everyone felt compelled to retell to each new face. The first lady stopped long enough to say that talk of her status as a crucial adviser to the president was "exaggerated," and Reagan said, no, even though he'd won reelection, he's not going to spend two months a year at his California ranch.
"I ran to get this job and do what has to be done," he said. "If I wanted to do that, then why should I run?"
He said that his wife felt better after a nighttime fall just before the election, although "she had a couple of days there that were pretty rocky."
He also said, as he has said in the past, that if the United States doesn't get an arms agreement with the Soviets, "it'll be their fault." As for his wife, she insisted she hadn't been upset about the briefing process for Reagan's first debate. "I wasn't angry," she said. "It's over. Past history."
Last night was the beginning of four more years of Reagan state dinners, and once again, the White House hauled out the linen, the china and the Hollywood stars. It was a dinner for his royal highness Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg, the head of state for a country that has 270,000 citizens and a land area of 999 square miles.
And whom did he meet, feeding on the lobster, caviar sauce and a 1982 Chardonnay?
One Olympic gold medalist; two astronauts; one golf pro; the usual barrage of television and movie stars, including one who was busy asserting that he doesn't want to be senator from California; one senator from California; numerous really rich people; successful members of important minority groups; one former boxer; various journalists who looked somewhere between embarrassed and smug; and an in-house relative, Barbara Bush's brother.
Then there was Jim Nabors, the former Gomer Pyle, as well as Henry Winkler, the former Fonz. Nabors, who said he is now a macadamia nut farmer in Hawaii, was a favorite of Reagan's as Pyle; after all, Nabors said, "It was on forever."
Winkler was in town to visit the Fonz jacket he gave to the Smithsonian in February 1980. "I didn't have a camera," he said. "So I waited for a tourist, and asked the tourist to take a picture of me with it."
Winkler was soaking it all up when Reagan made his after-dinner toast to the grand duke. The president first welcomed him to the country, then said, "When you reach California, Nancy and I would like you to give that great state our love. As the result of a certain political exercise that concluded a week ago, it looks like we won't be living back there, oh, maybe not until 1989."
"May I express my great pleasure at this opportunity to be the first head of state to congratulate you personally on your overwhelming reelection to a second term as president of the United States," said the grand duke in his toast. "As a matter of fact, Mr. President, we never had any doubt about the outcome."
For the dinner, Nancy Reagan wore an emerald green silk Galanos dress with what can perhaps be described as a low-hung bustle that hit the back of her calves. She also wore green satin shoes, identically dyed to match her dress. The president wore a tuxedo, as did the grand duke. Grand Duchess Josephine-Charlotte wore a cream-colored, two-piece dress embroidered with glistening pink and gold beads.
The entertainment was a performance by Twyla Tharp's dance company, done to recordings of Frank Sinatra singing "My Way." After watching them, assistant secretary of state Richard Burt observed: "I do that every Saturday after I've had three beers."
The White House crowd all looked chipper after last week's election. Vice President Bush smiled a hello to the shivering photographers documenting his arrival at the door of the White House, but typically, in an administration awash with post-election rumors on who's going to get what job, everybody clammed up.
"I'm excited about the prospects of the next term," said national security adviser Robert McFarlane, not often a laugh a minute but speaking more dryly than usual last night.
"He's going to sign up with Twyla Tharp tomorow," said Carolyn Deaver, wife of the deputy chief of staff who is, as always, the candidate touted as most likely to leave.
"No '88," said Bush, dismissing talk that he had damaged his presidential possibilities with his campaign performances this year. "This is 1984."
When actor Charlton Heston arrived, extremely tan, he was immediately asked about talk that he might run against Sen. Alan Cranston (D-Calif.) in 1986. "I've been president of the United States three times already," he said. Of the reports that he might run, he said, "I'm fighting them off."
Among the invited journalists was Nicholas Thimmesch, a resident at the American Enterprise Institute whose family is from Luxembourg. Of the Luxembourg mentality, he said, "We love mankind but we lock our doors at night."
Then there was Ted Koppel of ABC's "Nightline," who said he felt "bizarre" as a celebrity guest, facing the popping flash bulbs. He noted that he would have to leave early because "I'm working tonight."
Those planning to eat and dance and not work included former astronaut James Lovell, current astronaut and first American woman to walk in space Kathryn Sullivan, golf pro Kathy Sheehan and actresses Stefanie Powers and Stephanie Zimbalist.
The dinner had the standard crop of political supporters among the guests, including Julian Heron, a friend of James Lake, the campaign press secretary. "Oh, that's the guy you were going to fix up with Barbara," said East Wing aide Betsy Koons to Sheila Tate, Nancy Reagan's press secretary.
"We were too late," said Tate, who was watching Heron walk by with his wife, Kathleen. Heron was too late, too; East Wing staff aide Barbara Cook was at home with her new baby and husband.
Heron's presence was an example of the sometimes intricate networking that goes on for a state dinner invitation. Like some of the other political supporters at the dinner, he had been suggested to the White House by the Reagan-Bush campaign on Sept. 4. (This is standard procedure. What is interesting is that Lake was generally better about submitting more names than his colleagues; as campaign staff member Michele Davis put it, "This was the last one we had to do and everyone was bored.")
Another journalist on the guest list was Joy Billington, a reporter for the San Diego Union. On an earlier working guest list for internal use at the White House, a small note had been made in the margin by her name that read "S.T. insists."
"I didn't know I insisted," said Tate, "but I asked that Joy be invited because she is leaving the country and she has not been to a state dinner under the Reagan administration, although she's covered every one."
Guests at last night's state dinner:
Their royal highnesses the grand duke and grand duchess of Luxembourg
The minister of foreign affairs and Mrs. Poos
Christian Calmes, marshal of the court, and Mrs. Calmes, lady-in-waiting
Paul Peters, ambassador of Luxembourg, and Renee Peters
Jean Dondelinger, secretary general, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Germain Frantz, court chamberlain
Jacques Loesch, court chamberlain
Paul Faber, chief of protocol, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Julien Alex, director of international relations and cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Col. Euguene Meunier, aide-de-camp
Thomas Armstrong III, director, Whitney Museum of American Art, and Virginia Armstrong
James A. Baker III, chief of staff and assistant to the president, and Susan Baker
Perry R. Bass and Nancy Lee Bass, Fort Worth, Tex
Vice President George Bush and Barbara Bush
Richard R. Burt, assistant secretary of state for European affairs
Billy Ray Cameron, commander-in-chief, VFW, and Jeanette Cameron
William R. Chaney, chairman, Tiffany & Co., and Carolyn Chaney
Ray Cullin, NBC News, and Barbara Cullin
Jimmy Dean, country singer, and Mary Sue Dean
Michael K. Deaver, deputy chief of staff and assistant to the president, and Carolyn Deaver
John E. Dolibois, U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg, and Winifred Dolibois
The Rev. John E. Doty and Joy Billington, San Diego Union
David Echols, Presidential Committee on Women's Small Business (Chicago), and Evelyn Echols
Kingdon Gould Jr., former ambassador to Luxembourg, and Mary Gould
Bryant Gumbel, cohost, NBC "Today" show, and June Gumbel
Jack Hausman, Belding Heminway Co. Inc., and Ethel Hausman
Charlton Heston, actor-director, and Lydia Heston
Julian Heron, attorney, and Kathleen Heron
Albert G. Hill and Margaret Hunt Hill, Dallas, Tex.
Nancy Hogshead, 1984 Olympic gold medalist
Walter E. Hussman Jr., publisher, Arkansas Democrat, and Robena Hussman
Ted Koppel, "ABC Nightline" host, and Grace Ann Koppel
Lester B. Korn, Korn/Ferry International, and Carolbeth Korn
Gina Laurenzo, founder and chairman of the board of Ninfa's restaurant chain and 1981 Hispanic businesswoman of the year, and Tommy Laurenzo
Judge Manuel D. Leal, Houston, Tex., and Betty Leal
James Lovell, former astronaut, and Marilyn Lovell
Robert C. McFarlane, assistant to the president for national security affairs, and Jonda McFarlane
Edwin Meese III, counselor to the president.
Frederick W. Mielke Jr., CEO, Pacific Gas & Electric Co., and Lorraine Mielke
Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) and Joyce Murtha
Jim Nabors, singer-actor
Floyd Patterson, former boxer, and Janet Patterson
Paul G. Pearson, president, Miami University (Ohio), and Winifred Pearson
T. Boone Pickens Jr., president and chairman, Mesa Petroleum Co.
Scott Pierce, president, E.F. Hutton & Co. Inc., and Janice Pierce
Stefanie Powers, actress
Thomas J. Pritzker, president, Hyatt Corp., and Margot Pritzker
Dana G. Rhinehart, mayor of Columbus, Ga., and Carol Rhinehart
Gene Roberts, senior vice president and executive editor, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Susan Roberts
Selwa Roosevelt, chief of protocol, and Archibald B. Roosevelt Jr.
Robert F. Shapiro, president, Wertheim & Co. Inc., and Anne Marie Shapiro
Patty Sheehan, golf pro
George Shultz, secretary of state, and Helena Shultz
John H. Smith, mayor of Pritchard, Ala., and Barbara Smith
Mary Ellen Strong, publisher, The Black Family (Chicago), and James Strong
Michael Schwartz, president, Golden Slipper Club, and Esther Schwartz
William French Smith, attorney general, and Jean Smith
John H. Steinway, former president, Steinway and Sons
Kathryn Sullivan, astronaut
Twyla Tharp, The Twyla Tharp Dance Foundation, and Arthur E. Imperatore, ARCORP Properties
Nicholas Thimmesch, resident journalist, American Enterprise Institute
Alexander Trowbridge, president, National Association of Manufacturers, and Eleanor Trowbridge
Daniel Tully, president, Merrill Lynch Consumer Markets, and Grace Tully
Ramon Velez and Caroline Velez, The Bronx, N.Y.
Sen. Pete Wilson (R-Calif.) and Gayle Wilson
Mary Jane Wick
Henry Winkler, actor, and Stacey Winkler
Stephanie Zimbalist, actress, and Efrem Zimbalist III
Mortimer B. Zuckerman, publisher, U.S. News & World Report
Celine Arditti, Celine of Paris, and Patrick Arditti
Caspar W. Weinberger, secretary of defense