Now that the power is gone, so are the kid gloves. Ronald Reagan's onetime national security adviser Robert McFarlane is accusing former secretary of defense Caspar Weinberger of libeling him in Weinberger's recently published memoir, "Fighting for Peace."
Writing in the June 11 issue of National Review -- where an excerpt from the Weinberger book appeared in the May 14 issue -- McFarlane calls it "an astonishing, anti-intellectual, ad hominem tract; a mean-spirited assemblage of distortions and falsities." McFarlane says that "the defamations are only tactical devices, libelous provocations put forth to distract the reader" from Weinberger's own "dubious public record" and his role in several foreign policy debacles of the Reagan administration. "If Mr. Weinberger wants a public debate on this subject, I am happy to oblige," McFarlane challenges.
Invited by the magazine to respond to McFarlane's remarks, Weinberger brushes off his former colleague with a few personal digs. "Mr. McFarlane's prior record and sadly unfortunate problems, and his difficulties in recalling the truth as displayed in his testimony in the various Iran-contra trials, make it unnecessary to refute in detail all of the new recollections and petulant foot-stamping used in this outburst."
Manners Still Count At least some people are still in a kinder, gentler mode. Etiquette expert Marjabelle Young Stewart has named this year's 10 Best Mannered Americans, and seven Washingtonians made the cut. Topping the list is President Bush ("he still writes his own thank-you notes"), followed by Barbara Bush, actress Helen Hayes and Chief of Protocol Joseph Reed ("he treats everyone the same, whether it's a chauffeur or a visiting dignitary.")
Then there's Rep. Lindy Boggs (D-La.), actor Jack Lemmon, NBC-TV's Jane Pauley ("she handled her departure from the 'Today' show with true dignity"), UPI's White House correspondent Helen Thomas, Rep. Connie Morella (R-Md.) and Marla Maples (who "didn't kiss and tell").
Reagan Cancels Trip On the advice of his doctors, Ronald Reagan has canceled his scheduled trip to Europe next month and is limiting his other travel plans due to small adhesions in his small intestine. Reagan's doctors said the condition is not dangerous, so his upcoming meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev in California should go on as scheduled.
History Lesson It's back to the books for the veep. While speaking at Wausau West High School in Wisconsin Thursday, Dan Quayle told 3,000 students that he was proud to be the first vice president to visit the city of Wausau since vice president Calvin Coolidge did so in 1928.
Lucky there weren't many history buffs in the auditorium: Coolidge wasn't vice president in 1928, he was president.
Principal Tom Fischer said he thought few students even noticed the mistake. "What the teachers and kids realize is here is a guy who is on the road constantly, giving speech after speech and under public scrutiny, so those things happen."
Peace Prize for Gorbachev
Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev was named yesterday as the 1991 recipient of the Martin Luther King Jr. Nonviolent Peace Prize.
The award will be presented to Gorbachev on June 1 at the Soviet Embassy, said Coretta Scott King, chief executive officer of the King Center and widow of the slain civil rights leader for whom the prize is named.
"No world leader has done more than President Gorbachev to de-escalate the arms race and pave the way for greater democracy and economic freedom around the world," she said.
The annual award includes a medal bearing the likeness of King, a citation and a $1,000 stipend.
Summit Spirits In an attempt to cash in on next week's summit spirit, the Omni Shoreham Hotel is offering the Gorbachev Cocktail: chilled Russian vodka with a splash of borscht -- served in a potato skin -- followed by a Busch beer chaser. "Sounds ... um, interesting," offered one diplomatic observer.