John McCaslin

You only live once

Who from Ronald Reagan's inner circle wasn't on hand at the Wexler & Walker lobbying house on F Street Northwest for the first act of Nancy Reynolds' trans-Atlantic 80th birthday extravaganza, which now sets sail for Casablanca and Nairobi?

"The day after she celebrated her 70th birthday in Utah ten years ago, she started planning for this party," says longtime friend Maria O'Leary, who owns the apparel and jewelry boutique Nuevo Mundo in Old Town Alexandria. "She has the vitality of a 16-year-old."

Retired and living in Santa Fe, N.M., Mrs. Reynolds first came to Washington during the 1930s as the daughter of Democratic Rep. D. Worth Clark of Idaho, who later was elected to the Senate. Later, after several stints as a TV anchor, she became special assistant to Mr. Reagan when he was governor of California. She was a top Washington lobbyist when the Gipper won the White House in 1980, and Mrs. Reynolds took leave to help him and first lady Nancy Reagan, one of her best friends, with the transition.

Among those wishing a happy birthday and bon voyage to Mrs. Reynolds (unless they will be joining her at Rick's Cafe in Casablanca, and then on safari in Kenya) were Vice President Dick Cheney, former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, former Attorney General Edwin Meese III, former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Michael Deaver and former Sen. Paul Laxalt of Nevada.

'Just between us'

Fred Ryan, chairman of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, kindly forwarded to Inside the Beltway a copy of "The Reagan Diaries," the just-released, often-intimate, day-to-day journal that Mr. Reagan penned throughout his presidency.

In two separate entries, one in 1981 while recovering from the assassination attempt, and again in 1983, Mr. Reagan jotted down his observations about two lengthy one-on-one interviews he gave in the Oval Office to Washington Times political reporter and syndicated columnist Donald Lambro.

It so happened that during the height of his 1980 presidential campaign, Mr. Reagan not only read, but quoted from Mr. Lambro's bestselling book, "Fat City: How Washington Wastes Your Taxes." The president actually passed out copies of the book at one of his first Cabinet meetings.

In fact, it wasn't unusual for Mr. Reagan to approach Mr. Lambro for advice.

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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