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"I thoroughly enjoy being here," says peppy Anne Richardson, wife of Health, Education and Welfare Secretary Elliot Richardson. Things seem to her to have changed a lot since the last Republican Administration (Richardson was an Assistant Secretary of HEW under Eisenhower). "The town seems a lot more open," she says. "You see a broader mix of people at parties—people from different economic and social groups—and a greater tendency to mix Government and media people with the diplomatic corps. The town is more free-flowing."
Helping it flow even more freely is Mrs. Eric Ward, wife of the President's deputy science adviser. She is establishing her mark as one of the Administration's liveliest hostesses by trying to make her parties more like those of the Democrats, who are generally conceded to have more fun. "I read about those Democratic soirees in the papers," says Ann Ward. "Like that one Liz Carpenter gave the other day for Carol Channing and Pearl Bailey —and I think 'How different. They really are different!'''
The wife of one ambassador knows they are different. She recently gave a dinner for 20 well-known Republicans, ten of whom turned out to be nondrinking Mormons. Valiantly the hostess tried to disguise the situation by serving the teetotalers Vichy water instead of the first wine, Evian water instead of the second and ginger ale instead of champagne. But it was wasted effort. "A drag," reported one of the drinkers afterward.
Mrs. Arthur Burns, wife of the chairman of the Federal Reserve, is currently exhibiting an advanced case of Potomac Fever. When she last lived in Washington, under the socially dull Eisenhower Administration, her husband was an economic adviser. "This time we're meeting heads of state, we're talking to people who make history," she wonderingly exclaims. "Each time I go to the White House it's a special thrill —and we go there often now. You make that turn into the grounds you sweep up to the portico, and I think, 'It's mine! It's ours!' Washington is so exciting. It's almost too much of a good thing."
Two Washington wives who take it all in stride are Adele Rogers and Barbara Laird, long comfortably ensconced in their smoothly functioning, swimming-pooled Bethesda homes. Both have been the capital route before—Defense Secretary Laird was a Congressman and Secretary of State Rogers was Eisenhower's Attorney General. "The wife of the Secretary of State has more fun than the wife of the Attorney General," says Mrs. Rogers. That may give Martha Mitchell ideas of making her presence felt in the soft-voiced world of high-level diplomacy.
Short of the White House itself, the most prestigious Republican entertaining is to be found in the Georgetown garden or leaf-printed dining room of Senator and Mrs. John Sherman Cooper. In her Paris wardrobe and splendid emeralds, Heiress Lorraine Cooper displays an intuitive flair for the metapolitics of power—as practiced in the Senate chamber, or around the dinner table.