President Reagan will try to keep the bipartisan momentum going on the MX missile next week by carrying out a promise he made to moderate congressional Democrats on arms control.
Reagan advisers are debating three options that would elevate the arms control issue in the administration and provide high-visibility advice to the president on the best strategy for reducing nuclear arsenals of the two superpowers.
Option No. 1 would create a special counselor to the president for arms control, who would, at least theoretically, have ready access to the Oval Office.
Option No. 2 would bolster the general advisory committee of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency with a prominent chairman and some Democratic members who could command White House attention and media interest.
This committee was once considered a sop for conservatives who didn't like the idea of a disarmament agency. Under the new proposal, the committee would perform a similar function for liberals skeptical of the devotion of agency Director Kenneth L. Adelman to arms control.
The third option would extend for two years the life of the President's Commission on Strategic Forces, more popularly known as the Scowcroft Commission, after its chairman, retired Air Force general Brent Scowcroft, national security affairs adviser in the Ford administration.
The work of this bipartisan body, replete with defense notables of previous administrations, made it possible for the administration to drum up congressional approval for the MX and the small single-warhead missile that is expected to ultimately replace it. If the commission shows the same combination of zeal and care on arms control issues, it would be difficult for Reagan or any president to ignore.
The decision may depend in part onthe preferences of Scowcroft, who is eager to return to private life and has suggested that Paul H. Nitze, chief U.S. arms control negotiator at Geneva, be made special arms control counselor on a full-time basis.
Others would like to see Scowcroft in this job, even part-time, or as chairman of ACDA's general advisory committee if the president decides on the second option. But extending the life of the Scowcroft commission may be most compatible with a return by Scowcroft to private life, since the full commission would have an adequate staff and much expertise on which to rely.
Another factor favoring the third option is the support it undoubtedly would receive in Congress, where normally dovish but pro-MX Democrats such as Rep. Les Aspin (Wis.) favor extension as the best alternative. The betting here is that keeping the Scowcroft commission in business is the most promising and likely of the options confronting the president.
Newly elected Teamsters union president Jackie Presser won't be going to dinner at the White House. Presser declined a presidential invitation to a state dinner June 7, the same day he is to testify before a Senate committee in opposition to the administration's anti-racketeering bill. A Presser aide said the Teamsters president had a longstanding commitment to attend a private dinner given in his honor that night by "golfing buddies" in Cleveland.
Leave the thinking to us, boss: That could have been the theme of a reply given by Treasury Secretary Donald T. Regan last week at a White House press briefing in advance of the economic summit. Regan was asked whether President Reagan would be at a disadvantage in the summit discussions because of his lack of interest in detail.
"Oh, no, I think he's going to be at quite an advantage being the host . . . controlling the agenda and the flow of conversation. And he is, as you know, very experienced in conversation. That's what he likes best--quiet conversations, rather than detailed discussions of minutiae. Now, as far as the process of his learning, or his preparing, things of that nature, he has been briefed. He has been reading quite a bit on our economy, on the worldwide economies and on some of the issues."
When reporters persisted in their questioning, Regan took a mathematical approach to the problem. "Consider the amount of time that they're together and the amount of topics that we have here and just think physically--if each one of them were to talk for 10 minutes . . . you would have 8 or 10 minutes plus comments on each other. At most they could only speak for 15 minutes apiece, and you've used up a morning session.
"So, you cannot get into detail in these discussions. So, accordingly, the president doesn't have to know the detail. He leaves that to us, as finance ministers, to his foreign ministers and to others to get into the detail of how to carry this out."
Reaganism of the Week: (Discussing school prayer with high school valedictorians): "If you look back . . . to the collapse of great civilizations like the Greek and Roman and all, you'll find that one of the characteristics of those civilizations was that they began to desert and abandon their gods. That was one of the first signs of decline. And, I think we have to keep in mind that we are a nation under God. And if we ever forget that, we'll just be a nation under."