Despite Kirkpatrick move, conservatives aim for 2nd-term clout
Washington — Conservatives are clearly less than happy with their impact so far in getting those sharing their views into key foreign-policy posts during the Reagan administration's second term. But they stress that much is yet to be decided.
Although the defeat of Sen. Charles H. Percy (R) of Illinois was viewed as a victory in leaving open the chairmanship of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, it is not yet clear that Sen. Jesse Helms (R) of North Carolina or anyone of similarly conservative stature will be elected to that post. Still, conservatives are not giving up hope.
''If Helms takes that job, that would mark a sea change in American foreign policy. The State Department has to be in total shock and fear of his taking that post,'' observes Richard Viguerie, publisher of the Conservative Digest.
Though Mr. Viguerie calls himself a populist, observers say he is more of a ''new right'' conservative who speaks for a sizable following. Viguerie also owns a direct-mail and advertising agency that specializes in conservative advocacy organizations and candidates.
''If it doesn't happen, then you're going to see the administration move a little more to the left in foreign policy in the second, than the first term.''
Viguerie also says he is disappointed but not particularly surprised that United Nations Ambassador Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, who plans to leave her UN post, will apparently be offered no key policymaking post.
Both National-Security Adviser Robert McFarlane and Secretary of State George P. Shultz have recently indicated that they will be staying on for the second term. The only other key possibility in Viguerie's view would be a counselor-adviser position within the White House such as the one long held by Edwin Meese III.
''I think it's highly unlikely that she'll receive any policymaking position. Jeane just doesn't have a sponsor in the White House,'' says Viguerie.
What of reports that conservatives have rallied and pressed for such appointments from the outside?
''We have minimum influence in this administration. It's been captured by moderates and the big-business establishment,'' Viguerie insists.
What is apparently only slightly more encouraging to foreign-policy conservatives at this point, is the number of like-minded professionals at slightly lower levels in the executive branch, such as Richard Perle and Fred Ikle in the Department of Defense.
The two are regarded as some of the most powerful and conservative voices in the administration. But Viguerie insists the record there is also a ''mixed bag.''
For instance, Viguerie views the State Department as a largely ''liberal'' establishment, saying ''Shultz didn't bring in - nor Haig before him - any right-wing conservatives.''
Current indications are that Ambassador Kirkpatrick will either return to private life, as she has said in recent interviews, or possibly accept a temporary post as ambassador to France, a job widely thought to be hers for the asking.
Viguerie takes her at her word, saying he'd be surprised if she took the Paris job.