These are desperate times for newspaper people in Washington. The most we can come up with around the holiday season is that the Carter people refuse to come out of the closet and mingle with the Establishment in this town. The few times they have come out, they've made social faux pass of such proportions that their remarks cannot be printed in a family newspaper.
There are two sides to every story and while, under ordinary circumstances, it is not the job of a paper to print both, I think the Carter people should be heard.
I received a telephone call last week from one of President Carter's speechwriters who said, "The reason we never get out in Washington is that we've never been invited anywhere."
I find that hard to believe."
"It's ture," he insisted. "The only people that ever get invited to an Establishment affair are Ham Jordan and Jody Powell. I don't think the Carter Administration should be judged on the table manners of these two people when there are over 500 of us working in the White House who are dying to go to a Georgetown salon."
"But would you be up to mingling with the Washington Establishment?" I asked him.
"You bet I am. My wife and I have been studying etiquette since we came to town. We have pictures of Evans and Novak and Joe Kraft, and Clark Clifford and Averell Harriman and Liz Taylor and our walls, just so we can memorize their faces in case we ever run into them. But so far we haven't got the call."
"What about clothes? Do you have the right clothes for an Establishment party?" I asked.
"The best. We took all our money from the last White House pay raise and invested it in every type of outfit you can think of. We're even prepared to go foxhunting if the right invitation comes along."
"And still you've struck out?" I said. "I would say so. We only got four Christmas cards this year and three were from merchants we do business with."
"And the fourth?"
"It was from President Carter."
"Well, you certainly can't consider him Establishment," I told my friend. "It seems to me that except for Ham and Jody everyone in the White House has kept such a low profile that you're univitable."
"What exactly does that mean?" he wanted to know.
"If you were invited to one of our soiress no one there would know who you were, and you'd just be taking up a place that could be filled by someone from the Ford Administration."
"How are we going to get known if no one ever invites us out?" he said angrily.
"Don't get upset," I told him. "It's not your fault. But you see Washington operates socially on the revolving door principle. You can go into the White House and then when your man loses, you go into a law firm or become a lobbyist, and then after four or eight years you're back in the government again. That's how it works.
"When Joe califano worked for President Johnson no one ever heard of him and he was never invited anywhere. Then he went into law practice, and finally he came back as Secretary of HEW, and now he's very much in demand. But it took 10 years for him to make it in this town.
"You cant' expect to break bread with Joe Alsop just because you've been working in the White House for a year."
"All right," he said. "Then why do they keep writing that we Carter people are unsociable?"
"What would you write if you had a deadline and had to get to the British embassy for Christmas carols and egg nog by 8 o'clock?"