In that vast and lovely sweep of stateliness known as the White House East Room, under those huge, blazing chandeliers, sit about 150 worthly representatives and senators.
And they also are blazing.
Confronting them are the intrepid Bob Strauss and three sad-eyed agency types who have to explain All About Steel in 25 words or less. The people's representatives do not find all of this especially illuminating. Some of them are laughing ill-naturedly and shouting out words like "crap" to describe their immediate impressions. Chairs squeak: a congressman swears he's going to leave; the rest mutter-mutter.
It's like being strapped to the bleachers of Yankee Stadium.
Suddenly the President walks in, and behind him, a string of press people. The noisy room falls into a dead silence. All rise respectfully and applaud.
This is Frank Moore's third event of the day. It is 10 a.m.
Later - around an hour later, when he is back in the clutter of his office - he will shrug and say, "They're always like that. Hell, they're catching hell from their constituents back home."
And he will also say. "My only regret is that I don't spend more time with them. I get tied down in meetings here. I love those people on the Hill."
It is a love that - to put it in its gentlest terms - is not reciprocated all over the Hill.
Frank Moore heads the White House congressional liaison office. What this means, very simply, is that he's supposed to keep everybody happy. He's supposed to keep his long-time friend Jimmy Carter happy by making sure Congress passes his bills.
He also is supposed to keep the individual egos on the Hill happy, and good luck to him.
"To the Hill, good congressional relations means evey congressman has half an hour with the President each week," chuckles Tom Korologos. And he should know. He once had to relate to Congress for Richard Nixon.
"And good consultations," he continues," good consultations to a congressman is when the President agrees with everything that's in my bill."
And there are a number of Hill people who go along with that. Who figure they wouldn't want Frank Moore's job for anything in the world. Who say - give him time: every new administration has its early difficulties. And, all things considered, Moore is doing a pretty good job.
But there are also a lot of folks on the Hill - Democrats no less - who disagree vehemently with that assessment. In a fairly random survey, many came out talking like this congressman, who will go unnamed, since that's the way he wants it.
"They haven't got their act together on lobbying the important issues," he says. "The vote counts have not been reliable. There's been inadequate use of carrot-stick trade-offs.
"And with almost no exceptions every issue that has come down from the White House or agency has been viewed as THE big issue. There is no sense of priorities.
"Also, they haven't developed an early warning system. They don't know when a problem exists or develops until it's already out of control. That can be potentially fata . . .
"And they're not using their sources of information. There are congressmen - natural ailies - they ought to be tapping constantly. They could have saved themselves so much aggravation that way - it's sad."
The congressman goes on this way for about 15 minutes. At last he is asked - What will happen to Moore, to Congress, the nation?
"Well," he replies slowly. "Moore has got the confidence of the White House. He's a personable individual.
"Maybe God will help."
"Every day," says Nancy Moore, perched comfortably in the living room of her home, "every day we pick up the paper and if our name isn't in the paper it's a plus.
Frank Moore's wife of 15 years says this in a lively and cheerful fashion, for she is a woman who has obviously learned to adapt - and quickly. "I love it in Washington," she says, "I find it tough - but that's okay. I didn't think it wouldn't be." Meanwhile there are her new friends in her new neighborhood on Woodley Road, where her four children are growing up. Two boys, and two girls - it all worked out so well.
But Frank Moore is sitting, a stolid hulk of gloom, his large face immobile, clearly dreading this interview. "The first time my name was in the press" he says, staring straight ahead, it was in the negative sense."
Back hom in Georgia this didn't happen to him. But here - here in Washington - he must watch every word he says. Including - especially including - discussions of his relationship to Jimmy Carter, and by exension to the whole inner circle of which he is an integral part.
"It is NOT an inner circle," he insists. "I'm not denying I'm from Georgia. But Carter is close to Brown Cy Vance. It's a professional, employee-employer relationship."
He is told that everyone knows that he and Carter are very close, having risen together side by side.
"Yeah," says Nancy Moore, shooting her husband an astonished look, "he's MY good friend. Yeah, he's a good friend."
"Well," says her husband, "it's hard to separate" . . .
"If I had a problem," Nancy Moore continues stoutly, "I could probably pick up the phone and talk to him. He's a good buddy."
"Don't say 'buddy'," he husband tells her. "It's just not proper to call him a buddy. He's the President."
Nancy Moore smiles through her irritation to soften her words. "I will never do another interview with you again," she tells her husband.
"Just say he's a friend," says Frank Moore. "Just say he has a wide circle of friends."
Frank Moore really got to know Jimmy Carter back in 1966 when Carter was chairman of the board of the Middle Flint Planning and Development Commission in Eliaville, Ga., and Moore was executive director.
"I became close to him from the first time I met him," says Moore. The family stayed at Miss Lillian's house while they searched for a permanent residence. There was good reason for this sudden attachment. The two men had a lot in common - in background, at least.
Like Carter, Moore comes from a small Southern town - Dahlonega, Ga. - Where he grew up "a little petted . . . Sort of spoiled, 'cause he was the baby," according to his mother, Elizabeth Moore.
But unlike his boss, Moore, 42, didn't seem to have that overriding singleness of purpose to straitjacket his life. "Frank had average grades," recalls Elizabeth Moore, "not because he wasn't smart enough - but because he had such a good time."
He had a marvelous time as a frat man at the University of Georgia, an experience attested to by the mat in his White House Office that features a bulldog and the inscritpion "GO YOU HAIRY DOGS."
"Nobody could have enjoyed life more than Frank" concludes his mother. "He has a capacity for enjoying life that rally is a gift."
After college, he launched into a multiplicity of directions. He had consideredlaw school - but after his father's death rejected it as too expensive. He became a district representative out of Chapel Hill, N.C., selling college textbooks. He moved to Knoxville, Tenn., where he worked for Quaker Oats while Nancy taught school. He moved to Gainesville, and worked for the Georgia Mountain Planning and Development Commission where he started Headstart and poverty programs.
And then he met Jimmy Carter.
And when Jimmy Carter became governor of Georgia, he asked Frank Moore to come on over to Atlanta to help him out in a variety of capacities. IN 1972, Moore became his liaison chief and executive secretary, a post that had been vacated by Hamilton Jordan, who had ruffled legislative feathers along the way.
And Moore was a feather-smoother, all right. Down in Georgia they say that he had just the kind of hail-fellow-well-met personality to keep those legislators happy. But down in Georgia they're also saying that maybe Frank is in over his head in Washington.
Because when his boss was running for President Frank Moore found himself with a variety of functions: finance director, Southern political co-ordinator, congressional liaison director. And it was in that last capacity that one congressional staffer remembers meeting him - well before the election.
The staffer, who works for a Jewish reprepresentative, asked Moore what his office could do to get Carter elected.
"You really can't do much for us," the staffer recalls Moore saying. "But I think Carter could be very helpful to YOU with the Jewish vote in your district."
Outside, a needle-fine rain pelts the car that is working its way to the Senate. Inside, Frand Moore, with a 100-degree temperature and a bowl of chili coursing through his flu-ridden, 216-pound body, relaxes marginally. He is asked when he really knew, really could enjoy the idea of being in The White House.
"In the beginning, I was working so hard. I really couldn't enjoy (being in the White House). You know the first time I enjoyed - the first time I felt he'd really won? It was last Easter.
"He'd invited Nancy and I to Georgia on Air Force One - the first time I was ever on it. It took off and I sat down. And for the first time - the first time - I felt I wasn't flying Delta Tourist. And it really was the first thing I enjoyed."
A slender flicker of a smile. "But then I discovered the telephones and how to work'em."
The car pulls up at the Dirksen Building, and he moves, rapidly for such a large man, to a meeting with Sen. Jennings Randolph.
After half-an-hour the bells clang, indicating a vote on the floor. Moore rushes downstairs to the subway that leads to the bells" he asks, as he steps into the car. "A tourist comes to town, hears those bells, and says, 'MY GOD! Some of 'em have escaped!'"
The liaison chief smiles in satisfaction. Then - to take the edge off his words - he adds, "Sen. Bayh told me that joke."
Up on the Hill they're saying that Herman Badillo had no idea before hand that President Carter was going to visit his district. That the energy bill could be a fiasco because of a lack of coherent lobbying strategy. That, especially in the beginning, phone calls to liaison were not returned, and important members not consulted.
That Frank Moore threw a party and the wine and cheese arrived late, and he forgot or mispronounced some names of his own staff members. That key Jewish leaders and Congress weren't warrned of the impending Russian-American communique on the Middle East, and were very angry . . .
"That they're not secretary of state for Israel," mutters Franz Moore in his home. "I know they're mad about that. The President and they had a meeting about that."
But, also up on the Hill, some of them are saying - It really isn't Frank Moore's fault. You can't blame him. He has a good staff, he tries his best, but Frank Moore is the fall guy for this administration. Which does not know how to organize. Which does not understand Congress.
Bob Thompson, who works for Frank Moore on the Senate side, is asked how he would judge Liaison's overall performance thus far. He thinks a second, then says: "Average. But it's difficult to rate. Because we're facing a substantially weakened presidency because of he Nixon years, and we're facing high expections. And we're dealing with inexperience on the part of the administration. No question They had to learn quickly . . ."
"If there's any failure," he continues, "it's that I don't think (Moore) is used to dealing with a large staff organization. The volume of work the staff is asked to do is large."
To correct these problems, a man named Len Hirsch has been called in who calls himself "a consultant on organizational development." What this means is that he's trying to organize Liaison, which has, itself, suffered from some internal communications difficulties, partly as a result of being divided between the West and East Wings of the White House.
"Some of that was (the result) of bringing together a new group of people. It's bound to improve over time.
"No - " he corrects himself, swiftly, "No - It COULD improve over time. Hope is an important quality. As long as it's mixed with a certain sense of what it's like to work in a pressure cooker like this."
When Elizabeth Moore speaks to her son, he says, "If you come up, we'll go to Fredricksburg and walk the battlefield. And we'll go to Harper's Ferry."
"'Course I know he doesn't have the time," says the mother, "but we're the two readers of the family, Frank especially likes Civil War history. I'm the only woman I know who's read 'Lee's Lieutenant.'
"If you're from the South - well, I suppose even if you're from the North, but especially if you're from the South - you like to look at how well we did with such little resources."
But for some of the Washington power structure the South's newest rebels are beginning to pall. It would be wrong to say the honeymoon is over between the administration and Congress. The fact is, it never began. The carter crowd reveled in being the outsiders, and now - now certain representatives gaze over at the White House and they think they see Jimmy Carter hidden behind the glare of the Jody-Ham-Frank links in the Sun Belt.
Frank Moore, is told of all that. He swings around, his blue eyes bright with fever and impatience. "Supposing you were a representative. Which would you rather have? Someone you could meet who knew Carter - really knew him for the past 10 or 12 years? Or would you rather have someone who's been around here?"
The gaze never wavers. "Which would YOU rather have?"
"It's so unfair." says Nancy Moore. Sometimes frank Moore's wife thinks about the criticism, because she knows how much it disturbs her hut band.
"I think," she says - and she laughs as she says it, "I think - If you only knew what a cute little guy he is, you wouldn't be saying that." CAPTION: Picture 1, no caption, By Margaret [WORD ILLEGIBLE] - The Washington Post; Picture 2, Frank Moore and President Carter. White House Photo; Picture 3, The Moores, Courtney, Frank, Elizabeth, Brian, Nancy and Hank. By [WORD ILLEGIBLE] - The Washington Post