Patrick J. Buckshot, the trusted strategist for President Reagan, held a warm-up meeting for the Tokyo summit with aides to the other national leaders. In keeping with our agreement, he immediately leaked me his notes on the session. The most interesting portions involved their questions about the president's domestic political situation. I quote from the Buckshot memo:
Togo led off by congratulating me on our success in breaking the OPEC cartel and bringing down the price of oil. "We all benefit from that," he said, adding, "Our economists cannot understand why George Bush tried to halt the oil-price slide. I told them it had to be partisan politics, probably mixed with his jealousy of the man who beat him so badly in 1984."
"Well, Togo," I replied, "I'm afraid not. You've got it mixed up. George Bush is vice president, and in our country that means he's of the same party as the president. Walter Mondale is the man who ran against Reagan."
"Ah, so," he said. "I never could keep those two stramght."
"Don't be embarrassed," I told him. "Paul Laxalt told me the same thing the other night. He said if Bush keeps acting like Mondale, he might . . ."
"Might what?" Togo asked, all aquiver.
I was spared from answering because at that moment Marcel joined us. After the way his country treated us on the Libya raid, I hated even talking to him. But he was all unctuous sympathy.
"Ah, it is too cruel," he said, "too cruel."
"The way that unspeakable backwoods senator is making mincemeat, as you say, of the president's fine tax program."
"You mean Sen. Bob Packwood?"
"Yes, that man from Oregon. The Democrats should be ashamed to have such a man as chairman of the Finance Committee."
"Well, actually," I said. "He's one of ours. Helped get us our Republican majority in the Senate."
"Incredible," Marcel exclaimed. "You say he is a Republican. Do you happen to know if he is of French heritage?"
"I don't believe so. Why do you ask?"
"I just supposed that anyone who is so clever at finding ways for people not to pay taxes must be French."
Umberto edged into the circle and said, "Signor Buckshot, please convey to your distinguished president my sincere apologies." Drawing himself up to his full 5 feet, 6 inches, he said, "I feel certain I speak for all true Italians and Italian Americans when I say that man disgraces us."
"Who's that?" I asked, not knowing whether he meant Packwood or possibly Kurt Waldheim. I'd never known either of them was Italian.
"Sen. Peter Domenici," Umberto said, almost hissing the name and crossing himself. "May God forgive him for what he is doing to the president's beautiful budget. He disgraces himself and his party by persisting in his ridiculous demand for more taxes."
"His party is my party, you know." I looked at their faces, and I could see they were confused. "You're confused," I said. "Your countries have opposition parties. In our country, the opposition often comes from our own party. That's why, even though we are a big country, we can get along with fewer parties than you have. We oppose ourselves. The Democrats developed the technique, but we find it works quite well with Republicans too." They still looked confused.
Guenther, who had slipped into the group unnoticed, said, "Well, Herr Stock-mann will explain it to us. He explains everything so clearly, and we know he speaks with the approval and authority of the president. Where is our friend David?"
I cleared my throat. "I don't know how closely you fellows follow the U.S. papers, but David Stockman has left the administration. He's written a book. I won't mince words. The man turned out to be a traitor."
"I would not have believed it," Guenther said. "Stock-mann a traitor!'
They were causing such an uproar that Neville came over to see what was going on. They babbled away in four languages, explaining it all and, of course, mixing it up and making it sound as if the whole government were falling apart. "Hmm," said Neville, through pursed lips. "I think the prime minister should be aware of this."
I had had about as much of this as I could stand, so I was doubly glad to see my Canadian pal Claude walk up. "Patrick, old friend," he said, "I bring you special greetings. Mike Deaver said to say hello."
I punched him right in the mouth. I can't tell you how good it made me feel. Of course, the State Department sissies were upset. But who cares?