White House chief of staff James A. Baker III gave a generally glowing account yesterday of the first six months of what he called "the Reagan revolution" but acknowledged that the administration had made allies "nervous" with its military buildup and had been afflicted with "squabbling and turf fighting on foreign policy."
In an admittedly partisan assessment of the administration's performance, Baker dwelt on the success of the Reagan economic and tax programs and the nomination of Judge Sandra Day O'Connor to the Supreme Court.
He said Reagan had been successful because of "the deep-seated personal beliefs that he brings to the presidency -- views that were once part of the American character and now, under his leadership, are beginning to surface once again."
However, Baker also took note of "frustrations and disappointments," including the foreign policy fights and mishandling of the Social Security issue by the White House.
"Then, too, I think that all of us believe we could have a better job in the appointments process -- both in the timeliness of appointments and in the number of women and minorities in high posts," Baker said in a speech to the National Press Club.
Reagan has recognized that not enough women are being appointed and has moved to change that, the chief of staff contended.
"The selection of fine, distinguished people like Sandra O'Oconnor will not be the exception but the trademark of this administration," Baker said.
The military buildup, Baker said, was necessary to match "the most massive buildup in military arms by the other side that man has ever seen.
"We recognize that the Soviets are now seizing on America's buildup to launch a major propaganda offensive against us and that some of our friends are nervous. But we are convinced that the only way to achieve a more stable, peaceful world is to engage in a steady, long-term strengthening of our military forces."
Responding to president criticisms that the administration's foreign policy is ill-defined, White House officials have put a heavy emphasis on international issues in recent speeches. All of the speeches have followed a similar line, arguing that Reagan has many foreign policy achievements even if he has yet to make a major foreign policy address.
Baker ticked off a number of these claimed achievements yesterday. He said that in Europe, Japan, Canada and Mexico "the president has begun to solidify our ties with old friends."
He also said that the administration has taken a "firm stance against Cuban-supported subversion" and begun cooperative efforts "aimed at improving economic and social conditions in the Caribbean."
As the president prepared for the economic summit in Ottawa, a number of policy decisions were being readied in the White House. Various administration officials had these comments on some of them:
Attorney General William French Smith said the administration's far-reaching immigration policy, which has provoked internal battles over a guest-worker proposal and a "tamper-proof" identification card, would be decided upon within the next few days.
Immigration took up most of a 75-minute Cabinet meeting yesterday. Sen. Paul Laxalt (R-Nev.) said that he had been asked to take a look at the administration's proposal, meet with a group of western senators and make recommendations to the president before a final decision is reached.
Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig Jr., in response to a question at a briefing on the Ottawa summit reaffirmed Reagan's commitment to provide Saudi Arabia with additional aerial reconnaisance aircraft known as AWACS.
Haig would not confirm the expected resumption of shipments of F16 fighter-bombers to Israel, which were held up after an Israeli raid on an Iraqi nuclear plant. But other officials said the decision to send the planes will be made today. Four planes were held up and another six were due for shipment this week.
White House deputy press secretary Larry Speakes said he did not expect any decision by the president on a basing system for the MX intercontinental ballistic missile before the August congressional recess.