Those zany Republicans!
Last night a group of them put on silly costume hats and sang silly songs. It was a "revue." There was a "Wizard of Oz" theme, music from "Camelot" and, for the finale, "This Land Is Your Land." Then they waved little American flags.
Among the guests at the Republicans Abroad party was President Reagan's choice to be the new ambassador to Ireland, Margaret Heckler, who had agreed earlier in the day to accept the post and step down as secretary of health and human services. There had been reports, termed "malicious gossip" by the president, that the administration had been unhappy with her Cabinet performance.
"I'm really very happy," said Heckler.
What clinched her decision?: "When the president of the United States asks you to take on an important assignment . . ."
You think about it for a day?
". . . you think about it and then you know you must say yes."
But around the room of 500 at the J.W. Marriott, not much else was being said about the appointment.
Fred Fielding, the counsel to the president who was cast as the Tin Man in the skit ("The man with no heart," he reminded a guest), spoke for the White House about the Heckler acceptance: "We're very pleased."
"I'm not the one to ask."
Secretary of Agriculture John Block, recruited for the night to play the guitar and lead the chorus of "This Land Is Your Land," lost his smiles for a moment to say: "No comment."
He wanted to talk about the skit that would follow cocktails that would follow the banquet chicken dinner. "This is going to be fun," said Block. "We need a break from the farm bill. This is likely to be more fun than the farm bill. If it isn't, it's really going to be morbid."
Charles Z. Wick, director of the United States Information Agency, played it sly on the Heckler question: "I've been very busy all day. I hadn't heard about it." WINK. GRIN.
Okay. So now you've heard about it.
"I think she's a great lady and I think it's a wonderful thing for Ireland and for America," Wick said.
Heckler spoke briefly about her priorities in Ireland.
"I think we have the ancient problem between North and South," she said, but added, "One does not expect to make magical differences."
And how will her social life be over there?
"From all the friends who've said they will visit me, it should be interesting. The most difficult thing will be to handle all the personal problems, moving and things like that."
Heckler left before the chocolate mousse and the yukking it up part, which was the main event. It was all done to raise money for Republicans Abroad, the overseas arm of the Republican National Committee, whose goal is to get U.S. citizens abroad to vote and especially to vote Republican.
"They're doers," said Roy Cohn, a New York lawyer and friend of Wick's who flew in for the party. "Of course, a lot of them have money," said Cohn, "but they come because they have a belief in the cause. That's the Reagan magic."
Magic or no, the evening brought in $112,000, and the joint was jumping.
The enthusiastically received skit was something about a girl named Dorothy (Gail Wilson, wife of Sen. Pete Wilson), a Tin Man (Fielding), a Cowardly Lion (Wilson) and a Straw Man (Sen. Ted Stevens). Instead of a wizard, there was a character called Pop, the Magic Dragon, played by Sen. Strom Thurmond. The plot dealt with a budget problem in the Land of Oz, and it all ended happily and with a song.
The critics weren't invited, so it fell to Wick to provide the last word. Asked how he felt about the show, he smiled and said, "I'm very happy for all the people who are still alive."