Having a Ball: The Reagan Presidency

Bakshian, Aram Jr.

.................................................................................................................................................... Aram Bakshian, Jr. HAVING A BALL: THE REAGAN...

...There being no uncertainty at the time about the engagement or the marriage, one was shaken by that subjunctive mood...
...Dinckel my way...
...Resume search for Aunt Mariah...
...now he's finally found a place where he fits in...
...They pool wardrobes-a pair of shoes from one, a semi-clean jacket from another, a tattered but tasteful tie from yet a third-until one fairly respectable outfit is assembled...
...The conga line halts, Clarissa targets her new and helpless audience, and I manage to regain the ballroom by circumventing the fire marshals and sneaking in a side entrance...
...Locked out at three in the morning-the perfect end to a perfect party...
...Amidst mumbled apologies, I find her date is an Armenian friend of mine from Boston...
...Instead they usually find overcrowded hotel and museum ballrooms with no room to dance, no food, over-priced drinks, and under manned bars...
...He has to dismount and lead his jinxed chestiiut gelding out of the parade...
...Spent the rest of the afternoon pulling strings by phone with the result that by this morning my tickets are actually at the station...
...EDWARD MOSCOVITCH Data Resources EDWARD I. O'BRIEN Securities Industry Assoc...
...A somber, heavy-set man in a grey business suit with an elaborate insignia in his lapel and a walkie-talkie clutched in his right hand is staring fixedly at me from across the room...
...Prince Charles, as he is projected in the media-the only frame in which most Britons ever see him-is an entertaining and agreeable sort, amusingly jug-eared, not that brilliant, prone to fall off horses and travel a lot, and of course very rich, with maybe a touch of the clown about him...
...Besides, we had enough trouble on our hands taking care of real friends like the Vietnamese (suppressed groans around the table and murmured prayers that there were no reporters present...
...Finally mustered the strength to pay another call at Union Station...
...I notice from the program that a certain border state is among those represented at the Hilton tonight and immediately think of one of its dreaded native sons, J. J. Dinckel...
...Arrive just in time to watch Reagan's Inaugural address in sympa thetic surroundings...
...They've barricaded off the ticket area at the Station to keep out the vagrants...
...I really enjoyed it...
...THE AMERICAN SPECTATOR SEPTEMBER 1981 15 Saturday, January 17: A bunch of the Press Club "barbituees" (led by Kim Gregory, a veteran producer for CBS news) have improvised their own Inaugural Event...
...not real name] Shirley takes a more philosophic view...
...Monday, January 12: For reasons best known to themselves, the Inaugural authorities have designated the Union Station Visitor's Center, a black hole usually frequented only by winos and street people, as the place to pick up one's tickets after they've been "processed...
...I'll never forget the moment when, during a session of the Committee on Resolutions when the plight of Soviet Jewry was being discussed, J. J. rose to his feet and, never one to beat about the bush, declared something to the effect that he didn't see what all this fuss about Soviet Jews was good for...
...Slowly, he draws nearer, still staring at me through narrowed eyes...
...Even now many Britons grumble over what these very expensive Royals are good for, what they can do that some democratically elected figure could not do as well...
...Deciding to leave is easy enough...
...Co-sponsored with the Chair of Private Enterprise at Georgia State University...
...As it happens, I am "the guy," and my InspectorJavert is a fellow military history buff who remembered my performance and recognized me from afar...
...This was in large part the effect of the must which (so it seemed) afflicted most of the light media in Europe-and a few of the heavy British ones-while the Prince was engaged in his long teasing game of cherchex la femme...
...I notice more ethnics, blacks, and diamonds in the rough than ever before...
...Laffer's Magical Mystery Curve provides suitably surreal background music...
...Besides, she insists that this one can't be any worse than the Trickster's second in 1973...
...In the absence of Heinekens I order a whiskey and soda, and accidentally tread on the right foot of an attractive blond stewardess...
...It seems that the Inaugural ''Taste of America'display, a series of booths dispensing complimentary food and wine to ticket buyers and volunteers, was swamped by malodorous and occasionally incontinent bums when it opened a few days ago...
...Steer clear of self-deception...
...He arrives on schedule and, in what for one nervous moment looks like a mass assassi nation attempt, thousands of hands dive into breast pockets and purses as if reaching for pistols...
...Miraculously, I manage to wriggle away and get home in time to change for the ball .. . The only disappointing Inaugural Ball in anybody's life is his first one...
...beside me on the backseat I notice an abandoned evening newspaper...
...the poor guy must he the saddest man in Washington this afternoon, now that J immy Carter has flown back to Plains...
...and more than a few really stunning girls in stunning gowns...
...Finally, my nemesis speaks: "Aren't you the guy who conducted the auction last October at the National Capital Military Collector's annual dinner...
...Not long after the engagement it suggested that she "would very likely" be the future Queen...
...At one point, a hardened old reporter who claims to have memorized the world's largest catalogue of obscene limericks turns to one of the She-Texans, the relict of an oil baron who must have taught her more than the oil business, and declares with genuine admiration: ''I've finally met a woman who's more foul-mouthed than I am...
...Not, in other words, a deeply serious figure like his Mother...
...Without wanting to make too much of a stray remark (and a journalistic remark at that), the unsure tenor of it does send the mind spinning back into history...
...I recognize at least one lunatic who is working on the Committee as a volunteer...
...JAMES R. JONES  U.S...
...Knew her in the Young Republicans years ago...
...My tickets are not at the "will call" desk and a doleful clerk informs me that my name is not even on the computer list...
...HUN...
...I have one of the more pleasant conversations of the evening with him, a discussion of Victorian regimental mess dress triggered when he notices that I'm wearing a cummerbund in the regimental colors of Skinner's Horse, the original Bengal Lancers (very few guests are wearing white tie, most settling for dinner jackets...
...Outside it has finally started to rain, which can only mean that President Reagan has retired for the night...
...Whether it will change enough to make him a respectable King and the center of gravity for the nation is less certain...
...Fortunately, her madwoman's eyes are myopic as well as wild: He's 'walked right past her twice without being spotted...
...It is opened to the horoscope page...
...CAROLYN WEAVER  Senate Finance Committee DR...
...A light flicks on behind the door and a small, familiar round face peeks out through the curtains...
...The Reagans both brush away a tear as the Choir sings a patriotic medley...
...I remember reading somewhere that Ronald Reagan is an Aquarius, and that he is interested in astrology...
...Play waiting game...
...What had they done for us lately...
...For hours I keep meeting more friends and acquaintances, besides spotting a number of unfamiliar but interesting faces and vignettes: weary dowagers sitting on the carpeted stairs, their tiaras reflecting the glitter of crystal chandeliers as they struggle to free sore feet from cruel slippers...
...I was, and am, a conservative...
...At the Club I give away two tickets to the Vice President's reception next Monday at the American History Museum-one to a senior staffer from Reader's Digest whose landlady is desperate to attend something, anything Inaugural, the other to Leslie Nfungo, the unaccredited envoy from an unrecognized tribal homeland inside South Africa...
...As soon as the engagement was announced the Lady Diana was, for all practical purposes (nearly all), a member of the Royal Family...
...Friday, January 9: Drop off check for my tickets at Inaugural Committee headquarters, a grotty temporary building in Fort McNair...
...O...
...despite having laid out several grand for a private box, our hero has been forced by the fire marshals to cool his heels outside the ballroom for several hours...
...That climactic frenzy more or less had to leave the wedding as an afterthought, a bit of an anti-climax...
...it's the night of the Minolta, not the Day of the Jackal...
...DR...
...Wednesday, January 14: Tickets still not at Union Station but my name is still on the computer list...
...All of this, however, was thoroughly traditional...
...I arrive in the midst of a class war...
...Perhaps "relax" is not quite the word...
...Dinckel, whom I met while helping to edit the Republican Platform in Detroit last summer, is liberal central casting's version of a small-town Republican...
...An uneasy peace reigns at the barricade...
...Friday, January 16: Spent most of yesterday recovering from the farewell dinner at Csiko's...
...The first had his head chopped off by a dictator...
...Having collected Aunt Mariah, the venerable relative, I head for the Washington Hilton, site of one of the eight official Inaugural Balls taking place throughout Washington...
...Now the drunks and scroungers can only look on from across the hall...
...The crisis has passed but he is still furious...
...Attend one this evening at the F Street Club...
...The Washington bureau of a large trade journal occupies most of the eighth floor and several friends on the staff are throwing a small party for some visiting Texans, a breed I can usually tolerate in measured doses...
...Mollusc is already convinced that Reagan has sold out to the Eastern Establishment and is betraying the conservative movement...
...Tickets were still not there and, to my horror, I discovered that my name had disappeared from the computer list...
...Force of habit, I guess...
...BERYL SPRINKEL Undersecretary of the Treasury PHIL TRULUCK Heritage Foundation DR...
...The only casualty is a portly, embarrassed Shriner whose horse has balked...
...Fa Crissakes, Shoily, dose crumbs treated me like dolt...
...It's an amiable gathering with nearly 57 varieties of Jelly Beans on display, candy-coated "transition" peanuts, and a special sandwich du jour inspired by the President-elect's film career: sliced ham on Hollywood bread...
...I hail a cab...
...They take turns wearing it: infiltrate, gorge, and guzzle in shifts...
...Respect for such things is a matter of habit and custom, and the British have usually been 18 THE AMERICAN SPECTATOR SEPTEMBER 1981...
...There are plenty here, including a number of people I happen to know are Democrats but who are 1G TilE AMERICAN SPECTATOR SEPTEMBER 1981 more interested in political partying than political parties...
...She never even made it to her reserved box...
...Aunt Mariah has been to every Republican Inaugural since Hoover flubbed it...
...Story a clinker but Reagan's performance pretty good...
...After a hasty if hazy forced march to the Press Club, the Texas contingent dashes to the west window to watch the fireworks while I decide the time has come for at least one Heineken...
...The latter today are not confined to the poor, as we see in the Civil Servants' strike...
...and MORE...
...The retreads are rolling back to Capistrano...
...The most exclusive social events during any Inaugural are the private parties...
...La belle Nipkin will talk for hours to anything that can't outrun her, which I am unable to do because the corridor is full of men in wheelchairs (for the first time, a real effort has been made to accommodate the handicapped in the Inaugural celebrations) and a serpentine formation of blind celebrants is making a futile attempt to find its way to the ballroom...
...Only two problems: The parade is over an hour late getting started and, because of a flu relapse, I'm not drinking...
...Mariah is digging in for the duration...
...suddenly I'm in the clutches of Morton Mollusc, the world's oldest living Young Republican, who is checking the guests for ideological purity...
...So why don't you just shut up and buy me a f drink...
...HAVING A BALL: THE REAGAN PRESIDENCY The first 100 hours...
...Judging from the apparent age of horse and rider, this is probably their last parade...
...I hate moments like this...
...WALTER E. WILLIAMS George Mason Univ...
...So what if it's a little crowded...
...Where it should read '$10 per lady,'' it actually reads "$10 per lay, by Special Invitation Only...
...of Independent Business DR...
...The visual effect is eery, rather like a Dante-esque conga line, and Clarissa Nipkin's dogmatic babbling about Dr...
...My own horoscope is even more to the point: "Older individual is in your corner and proves it...
...On the subject of insanity, there seems to be quite a bit of it going around just now...
...Herb Greer ROYALTY'S CONNUBIAL JAMBOREE Curiously, the Royal Wedding seemed to have happened before it had actually taken place...
...I agree to rendezvous at her observation post after making a quick round of the ballroom looking for friends...
...flush-faced but gentlemanly old WASPs who have mastered the art of genteel tipsiness...
...The right guy won the election, dint he...
...Bump into three advance men and two schedulers from the Nixon White House...
...I phone home to discover that, having seen Reagan and downed two small sherries, the venerable relative said hello to a few old political friends, plowed her way through the mob to the lobby, commandeered a ride home, and is now snug in bed, eating chocolates and reading a Jane Austen novel...
...My mystery virus is acting up again...
...Shoreham Hotel, Washington, D.C...
...One of the staples in British antique shops is the detritus of past souvenir-hawking on one Royal occasion or another...
...But my despair is short-lived...
...Everybody's there: most of the incoming Cabinet, Ed Meese and Lyn Nofziger, Capitol Hill brass...
...He's Aram Bakshian, Jr...
...Written material requires close scrutiny.'Not bad...
...Monday, January 19: This is the morning of the "Distinguished Ladies Reception," which will probably be best remembered for an embarrassing typographical error on the ticket order form...
...On the pretext of buying a drink, I escape after a rambling briefing on the state of the nation in general and the Dinckel digestion in particular, following recent gall-bladder surgery...
...is a Special Assistant to President Reagan for the Arts and Humanities...
...You can be damned shave dose punks ain't hold da last a Harry Horstheimer...
...What's the mattah, honey, don't you love America...
...I, on the other hand, am beginning to run out of steam...
...Some things do change...
...The cop is standing in front of me now, his arms akimbo, and looking me right in the eye...
...The predicted rain gives way to clear skies and unseasonably warm weather on perfect cue, just as it did at FDR's first Inaugural nearly half a century ago-when Reagan, who looks so fit and lively this morning, was already 21 years old...
...Drown my sorrow in Tokay, Bull's Blood, and assorted Hungarian liqueurs at a farewell party at Csiko's, my favorite Hungarian restaurant...
...The class war has entered a new phase: Some of the more enterprising street people have found a way to evade the barrier separating them from the "Taste America" smorgasbord...
...The last time Britain had a King called Charles was in the seventeenth century, when there were two of them...
...There was even a tacky little show in London's West End, a staging of mock-heroic verses by Australian critic dive James, about the Prince and his hangers-on...
...There is no sign of Aunt Mariah at our rendezvous point or anywhere else-not even an oil slick or a few tattered bits of rigging...
...the more obvious of them remind me vaguely of the shabby little characters one used to encounter selling dubious postcards on Parisian boulevards...
...I introduce them to good old Aunt Mariah, who has staked out a defensive position for herself within view of the platform where President Reagan is expected to appear momentarily...
...Having survived shaving and a cold shower, I set off for the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank on Capitol Hill which is holding an open house this morning...
...Despondent, I take the subway to the National Press Club and gradually recover spirits by watching a local broadcast of King 's Row, the tear-jerker in which the President-elect, having had both legs amputated by an uncharacteristically sadistic Charles Coburn, asks the poignant question: "Where's the rest of me...
...Money isn't everything though...
...Nola Bubbleberg, a woman from my past, breezes in...
...Neither of them seems destined to shine in refined society, but, to judge from the girl's mink and the diamond ring on her escort's finger, they have their own reasons for believing in the American Dream...
...Henry Kissinger oozes in early, circles the buffet table a few times, grabbing choice tidbits and holding court until AI Haig arrives...
...they weren't invited...
...My cab driver, a large bearded man with thinning hair and a tendency to dribble, tells me on the way back downtown that the secret of good health lies in practicing nudity and consuming large quantities of the herbal remedies sold by a medico-religious mail order concern in Juarez, Mexico...
...One couple from New York, he a stubby, cigar-chewing Damon FI.a.cI.i ihtFuiuirtPJ POLITICAL i ECONOMIC INCENTIVES Income Growth or Redistribution - Which Will Mark The '80s...
...The foreign editot of one of England's grosser tabloids looms on the horizon, in search of a story, a girl, or both...
...Once you know what to expect, it isn't too bad...
...I'm luckier than many, since the Committee, as usual, has monstrously overbooked...
...The ballroom is getting more and more crowded and I feel the need for a bit of fresh air, even though it may mean an encounter with Clarissa Nipkin, a fanatic supply-side Lafferite whom I spot, a moment too late, out of the corner of my eye...
...Several thousand flashbulbs go off at once, the applause mounts, and the new Presi dent makes a short, graceful speech-the first of eight he will deliver with elan on his Inaugural rounds tonight...
...House of Representatives JAMES D. McKEVITT  Nat...
...Somehow I know that, while I almost certainly won't meet any number of hoped-for friends and acquaintances tonight at the Ball, a mischievous fate will throw J.J...
...Tickets still not ready, but they tell me my name is now on the computer list...
...DR...
...can't help thinking that, if worse comes to worst, this is the way she would have wanted it-signing off with her society boots on, in the midst of her umpteenth Inaugural Ball...
...It was at that point rather than later that the subliminal uncertainty which attends the future of an unmarried Prince vanished...
...Just ask Jimmy Carter...
...HEAR AND QUESTION THESE NEWSMAKERS...
...As I dart nervous looks around the ballroom trying to spot Mariah, I get the distinct feeling that I am being watched...
...The stars-both Hollywood and celestial varieties-are sometimes wiser than we know...
...The answers to this complaint are generally abstract, having to do with continuity and a sense of tradition: the kind of language which is used to justify the price of those antiques so expensively auctioned at Sotheby's in Bond Street...
...RICHARD W. RAHN U.S...
...Already the wrathful scorned are everywhere in evidence-enraged minor millionaires and seething small-town socialites whose names are not on the computer list...
...I'm due at an office building overlooking the parade route at 15th and New York Avenue...
...Mariah was nearly trampled to death at the Kennedy Center that year by a herd of Californians...
...Then as now the country was volatile at home, with violent trouble across the Irish Sea, very unpleasant demotic strains in political life (today these masquerade as demands for "more democracy"), and a tendency, especially among the poor, to ideological fanaticism and overriding sub-group loyalties...
...Relax...
...Says he voted for John Anderson because Kiki Anderson "turned him on...
...The rising sun salutes the setting, Kissinger oozes out a bit more quickly than he oozed in, and it's Haig's turn to hold court...
...As the violinist and cimbalom player grind out the overture to Countess Maritza, I toast a journalist friend who has had the good sense to accept a temporary assignment in Hong Kong, for which he departs on the morrow-a drastic but foolproof means of evading the Inaugural festivities...
...Chamber of Commerce RICHARD M. SCAMMUN Elections Research Center ALBERT SINDLINGER Sindlinger & Co...
...Now she says she's "heavily into free enterprise" and looks askance when I confess to having been on the federal payroll as a White House aide under the last two GOP regimes...
...getting out is something else...
...Everyone else is, and the conversation takes an occasionally bizarre turn, at least to my sober ears...
...The reception area is jammed with cranks and charlatans of every stripe trying to latch on, including one especially determined Harridan who has been lying in wait for the Inaugural chairman for several days now...
...The parade itself is excellent-shorter and less rag-tag than those of past years and with an emphasis on equestrian units, most of them well-drilled...
...Desperate, I introduce her to the lead blind man, who is wearing a nameplate...
...Cut the crap, Harry," she says...
...After all the false starts, blind alleys, rumors and jokes (some not very polite), and the gossipy absurdities, the bathetic high drama of those last few days of suspense, and then the real announcement-well, what was mere churching, even in St...
...CRAIG ARONOFF Georgia State University MARK BLOOMFIELD  American Council for Capital Formation DR...
...His image may alter with marriage, a little-a very little...
...What advice, I wonder, do the stars, by way of Sidney Omarr, have for our new President on the dawning of his first full day in office...
...The venerable relative herself, having exhausted her supply of chocolates and Jane Austen's prose, has come downstairs for refills, just in time to let me in...
...The published text got a feline, not to say bitchy, review from American novelist Paul Theroux in the Sunday Times, but that did not seem to dull the public's appetite for the show's plastic chic...
...and then some...
...Which it does, about five minutes after I enter the ballroom...
...We arrive early, but not early enough to avoid the beginnings of a mob scene...
...Tuesday, January 20: I awake in extremis, and with a vague recollection of having sung two verses of "Midnight in Moscow" in Slavic-sounding gibberish toward the close of dinner...
...The parade ends with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir float stopping in front of the Presidential reviewing box...
...The lines are still fresh in my mind as I alight from the cab and find that I have lost my latchkey...
...Given the manner in which the media now treat the Royal Family, such a transformation will not be easy...
...Probably a great deal more useful and direct than much of the advice Reagan will receive from bureaucrats, lobbyists, pundits, and politicians over the next four years...
...So, too, the dirty limerick collector, and everybody else in the room...
...She's not about to spoil her record now...
...I am trying to grapple simultaneously with an elaborate open-faced sandwich, a whiskey and soda, and an over-sized Canary Island cigar...
...Glancing at my watch, I realize I've been gone for several hours...
...A passing reference to Lady Diana-in the Times, of all newspapers-was distinctly untraditional, and rather startling...
...Still no trace...
...wearing a fur cap, overalls, a sweater, parka, cowboy boots, and purple mittens, and he's definitely unwell...
...The Royal loose end was tied up, and we could all relax-almost...
...One of the She-Texans has ambled over to the table, accusing me of lacking patriotism because I haven't walked over to the window to watch the fireworks...
...He's been thrown out of all the best clubs and sanitoriums in Washington...
...But every four years thousands of virgin guests descend on the city expecting space, grace, and lavish hospitality-a night in old Vienna with patriotic overtones...
...Every sort of gewgaw from pencil cases and cheap compacts to pottery mugs, postage stamps, and limited editions of very expensive porcelain plates Herb Greer is an American author and playwright living in Manchester, England...
...Class war now at a standstill...
...besides, the neighbors back in Dayton or Shaker Heights need never know what a mess it was...
...Paul's...
...Why am I going to fork over two hundred bucks so that the venerable relative and I can be prodded, crushed, and bored to death at what is laughingly referred to as an Inaugural Ball...
...flooded the up and down markets...
...The bums have been such pigs while making the rounds of the "Taste of America'' exhibit by turns that their composite outfit has been rendered unserviceable by gravy stains and grease spots...
...FIRM STR F: E r CITY STATE ZIP FISCAL N)LICY COUNCIL 1611 N. Kent, Suite 805 Arlington, VA 222119 (202) 659-1)828 Or ('all FPC Fla...
...of America LEE HAMILTON Nafl Assoc...
...305) 845-6065 THE AMERICAN SPECTATOR SEPTEMBER 1981 17 Runyon type and she an over-painted blonde showgirl with a perfect build up to the neck and a perfect vacuum above it, represent one of the many facets of what may really be the long-heralded emerging Republican majority...
...Naturally the souvenir industry jerked into high gear...
...Thursday, January 8, 1981: Why am I doing this...
...In those days Nola was a violent liberal...
...MICHAEL BUSKIN National Bureau of Economic Research EUGENE BURROUGHS Teamsters Union BARTLETT S. FLEMING Fiscal Policy Council OWEN V. FRISBY  Chase Manhattan Bank LUIS GRANADOS  ESOP Assoc...
...Not quite as absurd as it sounds...
...You need a security pass to pay for your tickets here...
...I can feel Nixonesque beads of perspiration forming on my upper lip, mercifully hidden by my mustache...
...He's obviously a cop or a secret service agent...
...In the shadier corners of the room, furtive groups of jobseekers eye each other suspiciously as they wait for opportunities to collar the powers soon to be...
...Still, like George Washington crossing the Delaware, the historical interest of the thing makes up for the lack of comfort...
...It isn't all old money and young debutantes, however...
...The FISCAL POLICY COUNCIL'S Fifth National Forum on Jobs, Money and People focuses on economic policy to meet government obligations and public expectations throughout this decade...
...Perhaps...
...ALLAN H. MELTZER Carnegie-Mellon Univ...
...of Manufacturers HON...
...October 12-14, 1981 _ RUSH DETAILS & REGISTRATION FINANCING THE FUTURE Political & Economic Incentives FPC NAME...
...Tuesday, January 13: To Union Station again in a second attempt to pick up tickets...

Vol. 14 • September 1981 • No. 9


 
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