There were the Deaver jokes:
"We've all heard the reports of Fred the possible PR man . . ." said Dick Darman, deputy secretary of the treasury. "Mike is in London, but he sent me this note -- I know Fred has denied he's interested in PR -- but I'll read this note. It says, 'Fred, got the 18 mil. Now will you agree it should be Deaver & Fielding, not Fielding & Deaver?' "
Fred Fielding laughed at that one. He laughed a lot last night. It was his farewell party and he was saying goodbye to the post of White House counsel, which he's held since 1981. The Deaver joke was a reference to last week's report that Mike Deaver had asked Fielding to consider joining his lobbying firm at the same time as Fielding's staff was considering whether Deaver had violated conflict of interest laws.
So what is Fred Fielding doing next?
"Private practice," he said last night. But he wouldn't be more specific, saying only that he'd announce the details "in a couple of days."
So back to the jokes.
"Nobody has to slap anybody," said Fielding. "Dick Darman showed up."
"My presence should not be construed as a sign of respect. It's an act of humanitarianism," said Darman. "There's no telling what innocent person might have been hurt."
That was a reference to the recent Washington Slap Flap, in which Sondra Gotlieb, the wife of Canadian Ambassador Allan Gotlieb, slapped her secretary after a disagreement over Darman's absence at an embassy dinner.
And, to be sure, there were the David Stockman jokes:
"No, no," said Washington conultant Joe Canzeri. "Darman's really here because he's bringing an autographed copy of the Stockman book. Stockman's your new source, right Dick?"
But not all of the Stockman talk -- which concerned his new book, "The Triumph of Politics: Why the Reagan Revolution Failed" -- was lighthearted.
"He's sleazy," said Nofziger.
"He's a turkey," said consultant Nancy Clark Reynolds. "I'm so mad at that guy. I wish I had him by the hair."
"It tells you something about his character," said Fred Malek, executive vice president of the Marriott Corp.
Mostly, though, it was jokes. And at a party for Fielding, there had to be Fielding jokes:
"In Mexico the man who throws the bull is a matador," said political consultant Ken Duberstein. "In Washington, he's called Regan or the counsel to the president."
"I thought it was damn nice of the president to set off that fireworks display in Libya for Fred," said Canzeri, who seemed for a while to be vying with Darman for title of Life of the Party.
Smallish (30 or so), elegant (candlelight and a harpist), and jolly (at least six people poked fun at Fielding during the toast), the Jefferson Hotel dinner party was given by Cultural Ambassador at Large Daniel Terra.
In addition to the jokes, there was talk about the American bombing mission in Libya.