She apparently never tires. Ask Nancy Reagan.
In 1988 in New York, Barbara Bush, then wife of the vice president, suggested to Soviet First Lady Raisa Gorbachev that she must be exhausted after her marathon flight from Moscow. "She is never tired," Nancy Reagan kindly answered for longtime nemesis Raisa.
For sure, the Soviet's fireball First Lady always keeps a high-profile, independent schedule on her foreign trips. But Mrs. Gorbachev may be taking a different tack for this week's first Bush-Gorbachev summit on American soil if her schedule to date is any indication.
Over the course of the four-day visit, Mrs. Gorbachev is committed to only three solo appearances: a very social reception Thursday afternoon at the Library of Congress for 350 lions of Washington, given by Occidental Petroleum Chairman Armand Hammer; a short tour of the Capital Children's Museum later that day; and a trip to Wellesley College with Mrs. Bush Friday.
The remainder of her schedule appears to dovetail with her husband's. She will be the guest of Mrs. Bush at an intimate White House tea Thursday morning while the heads of state are meeting down the hall. She and her husband will host a Thursday luncheon at the Soviet Embassy to meet, in the words of the Soviets, "American intellectuals"; that evening they will be honored at the White House state dinner. On Friday, Mrs. Gorbachev will be on hand at the embassy for the presentation of at least two awards, including the Martin Luther King Peace Prize, to Mikhail Gorbachev; that evening is the return state dinner given by the Soviet couple for the Bushes and other Washington luminaries.
On Saturday morning, the Gorbachevs will join George and Barbara Bush, along with First Dog Millie, at Camp David for what the White House consistently refers to as "down time."
"Walking, reading, bowling," is how one White House official described Saturday's activities. "It's very relaxed."
After a brief press conference on Sunday morning, the Gorbachevs will leave for the semi-official leg of their trip: a six-hour stopover in Minneapolis and then on to San Francisco, where Mikhail and Raisa Gorbachev will breakfast with Ronald and Nancy Reagan on Monday morning.
Mrs. Gorbachev has also reportedly expressed interest in meeting with some current Hollywood stars.
While it's fair to assume a few more events may pop up on her schedule, there are also reports that the outspoken Mrs. Gorbachev is intentionally keeping a lower profile during this trip.
This would be in marked contrast to her first summit in Washington in 1987 when, in addition to visiting the National Gallery of Art and attending a high-powered tea at the home of Democratic fund-raiser Pamela Harriman, she made her presence known by ruffling Nancy Reagan's feathers during a tour of the White House.
The relationship between the current first ladies is reportedly much warmer. "She's considerably younger, and we have different focuses probably. But I think we're both concerned with the children and the young in our country," Barbara Bush said in a recent interview.
Indeed, it was Barbara Bush's idea to include Mrs. Gorbachev at the Wellesley commencement, which now appears to be the centerpiece of her visit to the United States. Considering the controversy surrounding the invitation to Mrs. Bush, Mrs. Gorbachev's presence and remarks have turned an already newsworthy event into a media frenzy. There is also talk of another stop in Boston following the commencement, but as of yesterday, plans were not confirmed.
In Washington, Mrs. Gorbachev's premier event is the Library of Congress reception. At her request, the Soviet First Lady will be given a demonstration of the library's electronic card catalogue system. She will also open a Russian exhibition at the library, "Living Traditions of Russian Faith: Books and Manuscripts of the Old Believers, Fifteenth Century to the Present."
She will then enter the newly renovated southwest hall, to face an A-list that includes Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Commerce Secretary Robert Mosbacher and his wife, Georgette, Washington Post Co. Chairman Katharine Graham, Pamela Harriman and Randolph Hearst.
"I haven't heard of any other private events with her," said a prominent socialite who received one of the coveted invitations to the library reception. "But then again, you never want to ask."