"You know," said the young woman to the friend who had betrayed her, "there are two things I don't like about you. Your face."
Sen. Richard Lugar may be feeling something like that as he contemplates the latest perfidy of the administration to which he has tried so hard to be loyal.
Lugar, along with such other GOP faithful as Sen. Nancy Kassebaum (Kan.), has tried hard to square his solid support of the administration with his own personal decency, straining to put a good face on bad policy. Even on the question of apartheid, on which he and President Reagan clearly differed, at least in emphasis, he has tried to minimize those differences while urging the administration toward a humane and coherent South Africa policy.
It now turns out that even while the president was denouncing apartheid, his agents were negotiating -- apparently in secret -- a new five-year trade agreement calling for an increase in textile imports from South Africa.
Lugar described the disclosure as "hard to believe . . . , not a good agreement, in my judgment." When reminded that the trade negotiators defended their actions on the ground that they were not considering the political implications of the agreement, Lugar deadpanned: "They probably should have."
For the unflappable Lugar, that amounts to an emotional outburst. He clearly felt betrayed by a two-faced administration that, for all its talk about "punitive" sanctions not being the best way to end apartheid, is revealing itself as more a friend of the South African government than an enemy of that government's official racism.
And he ought to feel betrayed. On the day that White House spokesman Larry Speakes reluctantly announced the trade agreement (it had been leaked to the press a day earlier) Lugar (R-Ind.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was introducing a sanctions bill carefully drafted to give Reagan a chance to look good while avoiding the much broader sanctions of Rep. Ronald Dellums' (D-Calif.) measure already passed by the House.
The Lugar bill would deny U.S. landing rights to South African Airways; ban imports from such quasi-official industries as steel, uranium, cement and aluminum; restrict visas for South African officials; and ban new investments in South Africa by companies that do not subscribe to the so-called Sullivan Code of fair employment practices. It would also enact the sanctions laid out in Reagan's executive order of last year.
These mild sanctions might have been a useful message to South Africa had they been proposed earlier and not merely as a way of avoiding tougher ones. That was the major problem with last year's executive order. The president had long since made clear his outright opposition to sanctions, and only issued the executive order (due to expire in September) after it seemed certain that Congress would enact a tougher measure. In other words, the president's order was read -- both here and in Pretoria -- not as a slap at South Africa but as a preemptive strike against the U.S. Congress. The president did it to help his friend P. W. Botha.
Now Lugar, who in my view really would like to see America move against apartheid, will be at some pain to demonstrate that he isn't playing the same Reagan game. With his own credibility on the line, he may find himself forced to move more in the direction of the House bill.
At least I hope so. And not because I believe that imposition of the across-the-board economic sanctions contained in the House measure would necessarily end apartheid. The importance of sanctions is in making it unequivocally clear to South Africa that its intransigence has a price: the loss of its major trading partner.
That message is terribly muddled now. The president, who neither understands nor much cares about apartheid, muddled it once with his executive order, whose only result was a shuddering sigh of relief in Pretoria. And Lugar is about to muddle it again, by rescuing Reagan -- and Botha -- from the harshest effects of their stubbornness.
Lugar is going to have to make up his mind whether to salvage his reputation as an intelligent, loyal, thoroughly decent man or to waste his personal and political capital in the effort to help Reagan save face. Both of them.