Watch out George Bush, Jack Kemp, Bob Dole, Howard Baker and any other Republicans who have their eyes on the White House in 1988. Here comes Jeane Kirkpatrick.
Admittedly, she isn't officially a registered Republican.
"Very soon, very soon," Kirkpatrick said yesterday at a brunch in her honor given by, of all people, a Democrat.
The scenario, as drafted by some guests over their al fresco fare of Maryland crab imperial, Potomac River fried oysters and She-crab soup ("because we're honoring women," said the hostess), calls for Kirkpatrick to campaign for the presidency through speaking appearances (at a reported $20,000 each), a book ("I'll write it myself," she told a guest) and a newspaper column on foreign affairs.
The end result, said these handicappers, would be that she becomes the only logical candidate for vice president. Considering the crowd she drew at the Potomac estate of Esther and Jack Cooper-smith, it might not be so farfetched.
The Welcome Back to Washington brunch was a sampling of administration (newly confirmed Attorney General Edwin Meese III, CIA Director William Casey and Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger), Congress (Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole), diplomacy (Israeli Ambassador Meir Rosenne seated next to Jihan Sadat, the widow of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat; Portuguese Ambassador Leonardo Mathias and Cypriot Ambassador Andrew Jacovides), academia (American University president Richard Berendzen), media (New York Times columnist William Safire, ABC-TV Washington correspondent Steve Bell, NBC-TV correspondent Marvin Kalb, Hearst Newspapers' John Wallach) and military (Marine Corps Commandant P.X. Kelley).
Washington attorney Charles Lipsen, Esther Coopersmith's brother, said there'd never been so many Republicans in the Cooper-smith house at one time. And in honor of the occasion, he'd brought along a present for his sister.
"If she wants to be with all these Republicans, I figured she might as well have a real big one," said Lipsen, holding up a framed and signed photograph of William McKinley for a couple of guests to inspect.His sister had another picture, this one commissioned from Washington artist Lily Spandorf for the occasion. It showed Kirkpatrick assaulting the Capitol with her back to the White House.
"We don't know what her political future will be," said Coopersmith.
Kirkpatrick, for one, wasn't saying.
"The important message of our time is to try to be clear about who one is, what one believes, what one stands for, with whom one will stand with," Kirkpatrick said.
Later, she told a guest who asked her if she would run for president, "You're women going to have to do more for me."
She told another guest: "The UN job taught me three great liberations of my life: Just because the telephone rang, I didn't have to answer it. Just because somebody wrote me, I didn't have to answer. Just because a journalist asked me a question, I didn't have to respond."
"It's not a political rally, not a religious service, but a love-in for Jeane," said Esther Coopersmith, confining her introductions to her guest-of-honor and the head table.
But in some respects, it was a tossup over who outstarred whom at the party, Kirkpatrick or Meese. He said he'll be informally sworn in today as U.S. attorney general and formally sworn in two weeks from now.
Said one farm state senator, Nebraska Democrat Edward Zorinsky: "I told Ed months ago that he had my vote locked up. Having been a mayor, an executive, I feel the chief executive is entitled to his appointment. I think Ed will do a very good job. He's conscientious."
"Ed never lost his cool, never lost his optimism. It was politics." said Air Force Secretary Verne Orr, who served with Meese for eight years when Ronald Reagan was governor of California. "These people were not trying to get at Ed Meese, they were trying to get at Ronald Reagan."
"He figured he hadn't done anything and he was just going to stay and prove it. That takes real stamina," said Joan Orr.
As luck had it, the Orrs had scheduled a small "family party" with two other couples in honor of the Meeses Saturday night. "Then Ursula called me at 4:15 and said 'you won't believe this. It came through.' "
Meese looked none the worse for wear.
"Oh, well," he said, "we're glad it's behind us and we're looking forward to going in there and doing the job."
The sun was so bright out beside the swimming pool that guests who wanted them -- Jihan Sadat was one -- got golf hats to protect them.
"I'm not sure if God is smiling on us or not," said Kirkpatrick, who stays on in her United Nations post as ambassador until the end of March, "but he's reminding us of his power."
Esther Coopersmith called Kirkpatrick "symbolic of women in America and all over the world . . . it's so wonderful in this day and age that a woman has a choice," she said to gasps of skepticism. "We're happy that you're back and expect even bigger and better things."
Some remembered back to the time that the Coopersmiths' daughter, Connie, Ben Wattenberg and Kirkpatrick, among others, were on the Montgomery County Democratic slate of the late Washington senator Henry (Scoop) Jackson for the 1976 Democratic National Convention.
"If successful," Kirkpatrick told her audience, "we might very well have saved the world from Jimmy Carter, and God knows what else."
She didn't elaborate on the "what else."