BEFORE ANYONE gets too excited about former President Richard Nixon being invited to dinner at the White House, I would like to remind them that Vice Premier Teng requested to see him, and therefore the decision was not President Carter's alone.
No one knows what Nixon and Teng will talk about, but I'm going to guess.
Nixon: Mr. Vice Premier, is it true that you were one of the leading political figures of the People's Republic and that you were downgraded and sent into exile?
Teng: That is true. The Gang of Four ganged up on me and told Mao I was a counter-revolutionary running capitalist dog. I was in utter disgrace.
Nixon: I know the feeling. How much did you get for your memoirs?
Teng: Nothing. My name was not permitted to be mentioned in the press. The only place you could read about me was on wall posters, which villified me morning, noon and night.
Nixon: What about television? Did David Frost do a series of interviews with you?
Teng: I tell you I was a non-person. Mao hated me as did the students and the peasants and the factory workers. The Eastern establishment Peking media would not write one word of truth about me.
Nixon: You mean you wnet through all that hell and didn't amke a dime on it? For heaven's sakes, why didn't you get a literary agent?
Teng: You don't seem to understand, Mr. President. In China, when you are forced to leave office, you give up all literary nd theatrical rights to your alleged crimes. Even your forced confession is considered in the public domain. You can't get 10 years for it.
Nixon: I never heard of anything like that. All of us in public life make mistakes, but we should be compensated, or we'll neve r learn from them.
Teng: Mao never saw it that way. Once you were on his enemies' list you couldn't do anything right as far as he was concerned. He had 2 million people in Peking screaming for my head, because I opposed the Cultural Revolution. I managed to hide out until the heat blew over, but it was close.
Nixon: Didn't they give you a secretary, an office and secret servicemen when they forced you to resign?
Teng: You have to be joking. I was lucky they didn't have me pulling a plow. Do you mean to say that after you were disgraced, they provided you with a staff?
Nixon: It wasn't a large staff. I still had to pay for my own golf caddy.
Teng: Well, it's all water under the bridge.
Here we are -- both of us at the White House, not only rehabilitated and back in power, but once again loved by our respective peoples.
Nixon: I'm not exactly back in power yet, though they did name a high school after me in Kentucky the other day.
Teng: Ah, yes. Then it should be only a matter of time before you get back at the people who did you in.
Nixon: Frankly, I haven't given it thought. They can say what they want to about Nixon, but he never holds a grudge. It's all in my book.