On the eve of the Soviet-American summit, Secretary of State George Shultz looked over the gala dinner until his eyes found Soviet Ambassador Yuri Dubinin. Shultz spoke of how history might be made in the coming week, saying that the American negotiators intended to be tough but believed that the arms control treaty would bring a more stable world.
"And the Soviets want to see the thing worked out as well," he said.
Dubinin nodded his head.
Last night in State's Benjamin Franklin banquet hall, before an audience of ambassadors, philanthropists and government officials, Shultz said he thinks it is important to surround the fateful events of next week with "a sense of history and perspective." He credited the State Department's Diplomatic Reception Rooms, which benefited from the dinner, with setting the scene for his earlier negotiations with Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze. The rooms, he said, will provide a setting "that tells of our history" for a luncheon he will give next Wednesday for Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
He said he intended to take Gorbachev over to the desk on which Thomas Jefferson wrote part of the Declaration of Independence, and tell him about this man who could design a desk, the University of Virginia, Monticello -- "quite a guy, not just a statesman, but a broad-gauge person." And sounding rather like a candidate, Shultz noted that Jefferson "was a secretary of state when a secretary could become president."
Shultz spoke extemporaneously, ignoring the speech prepared for him by Clement Conger, curator of State's fine arts collection. Winding up, he looked down at the speech and was reminded that the dinner honored, as he said, "another secretary of state who became president," James Madison. Shultz said he thought Madison, watching the progress of the arms control treaty, would wonder "if we could make it amount to something."
Shultz finished up by saying that Dolley Madison believed in having a good time, so the guests should "live it up." As for himself, he said, he was limited to bread and water and he and his wife Helena were going home to rest up for the summit.
With that, the Shultzes left.
Ambassador Dubinin told guests at his table that it was all very well for Shultz to go home, "but my wife and I are enjoying a few minutes of rest here tonight." So he and the almost 250 guests went on with their crayfish soup (slightly cooled during Shultz's oratory), Madison potato breads, cranberry champagne ice, rack of lamb, Dolley Madison's chutney in pear, autumn vegetables, Sally Lunn, salad with quail eggs, and mousse served in a chocolate tulip.
Earlier, the ambassador spent part of the cocktail hour with Protocol Chief Selwa Roosevelt, resplendent in white and black. Liana Dubinin said she expects to join Raisa Gorbachev in her Washington schedule, which Roosevelt said will soon be announced. Mrs. Dubinin said she hasn't met the Soviet first lady, but she's looking forward to the visit.
After the dinner, former chief justice Warren Burger, chairman of the Commission of the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution, gave Madison equal time to balance Shultz's eulogy of Jefferson.
British Ambassador Sir Antony Acland, there with his new wife Jennifer, apparently took no offense at Shultz's remarks about the Declaration of Independence. Emmanuel de Margerie, the French ambassador, seemed to enjoy them. Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve System, made one of his first Washington social appearances, along with two other new appointees, CIA Director William Webster and FBI Director William S. Sessions. Guests drew cards to determine their places at the 24 tables, where the hosts included ambassadors plus Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and Antonin Scalia, and John C. Whitehead, who as deputy secretary of State expects to be busy next week. The benefit dinner was underwritten by Edward H. Alexander of Toledo.