Only a few weeks ago, some officials were saying that an overly ambitious Secretary of State Alexander Haig might not last in his job past June. Now Mr. Haig seems to have bounced back. President Reagan praised his recent performance in Europe. Haig clearly loves his job and wants to stick with it.
The story going around Washington is that the resilient secretary of state owes his comeback to the fact that he has learned two new words: "President Reagan." He says them often these days.
the story is told jokingly, but it may be true up to a point. Haig is showing himself to be more of a team player than he appeared to be earlier. He makes clear that he is not getting out ahead of President Reagan or his aides in foreign policy. Haig's theme: This is a president who knows where he is going in foreign policy. I may disagree with some of the decisions he has made -- on the timing of the lifting of the grain embargo and proposal for the sale of radar planes to Saudi Arabia -- but the President hsa to take into account a wider range of considerations than I do. Once he makes such a decision, I support him.
Only a few weeks ago, Haig seemed to be moving too hard and too fast to establish his primacy in foreign policy. He offended some of the President's closest aides, and they counterattacked. Through leaks to the press, they made it clear that Haig was getting out of line. Before long, everyone agreed that Haig was in trouble.
Meanwhile, however, everyone has had a chance to stop and think. The White House staff, and the President himself, seemed to realize that the sniping at Haig was creating the impression that the administration's supposedly tough and consistent foreign policy was actually in disarray. From the White House point of view, Haig did well in his recent meetings with the allied nations in Rome. Haig has suffered several defeats in internal debate, but he is taking them graciously. He also has won on a few decisions, most notable among them the administration's determination to go ahead with a "two-track" approach to the Soviets. It entails offering to negotiate arms control with the Soviets while sticking to the plan to install new nuclear weapons in Western Europe.