"His Majesty has arrived," said Sen. Mark O. Hatfield (R-Ore.) with a grin as he watched Henry Kissinger enter the crowd assembled at Kramer Books on Dupont Circle.
Once inside, Kissinger paused, flashed his benificent trademark grin, and the pack of people crammed amid the narrow aisles parted for him.
The party was really in honor of NBC State Department correspondent Richard Valeriani, whose new book is the anecdote-filled "Travels with Henry," culled from Valeriani's worldwide shuttles with Kissinger and the press crops.
But Kissinger was the star.
"I think it's disgraceful that more people have asked you to sign the book than they've asked the author," quipped Valeriani, who looked as excited as an 8-year-old at a birthday party.
"The part where he says I'm intelligent is very good," said Kissinger when asked about the book, which shows him at his witty best (remark to weary press corps following hectic tour of the Middle East: "If it's Thanksgiving, it must be Damascus") and his slobby worst (stuffing candies or pretzels or nuts or potato chips into his mouth, drooling from the lips . . .")
Photographers perched on book display tables to take pictures of him. Hands were shaken. Books were thrust out for him to autograph.
"I've read about half the book," Kissinger said. "Of course, he didn't always agree with me, but even journalists aren't right 100 percent of the time."
"Excuse me," said a man, who slipped through the crowd of State Departement employes, Valeriani's NBC co-workers, and other journalist, up to Kissinger, "I'm Iranian. What do you predict for Iran?"
Kissinger paused a moment "A long period of uncertainly," came the answer.
"Five years? Ten years? the man persisted.
"No, not that long," Kissinger said. He moved on.
He encountered Los Angeles Times reporter Ken Freed, back from Iran. "You're very popular there," said Freed.
"I'm a household word there now," Kissinger said with a grin. He talked about the shah, whom he has said should be given a permanent place ot live.
"My basic concern is humanitarian," said Kissinger. "it's just something we owe an old friend,"
He was asked about the SALT II talks starting in Vienna today, the first summit talks between Russia and America over the last 12 years that he will not be part of. "You can't be out of office and wonder what you would be doing," he said. "I wish the president every success."
Then came the question about the William Shawcross book - "Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon and the Destruction of Cambodia," which indicts Kissinger for the devastation of Cambodia. He flinched verbally, "McCarthyism," Kissinger said calmly. "It's inaccurate, distorted . . ." He trailed off.
Later, he talked about his own book on those foreign policy years, which will come out in October. "I think it's going to start debates," he said. "I'm trying to deal rationally with an emotional subject. I deal with the same material from a foreign policy level, not from the level Shawcross dealt with it," he said, growing agitated.
"I'm not going to debate Shawcross," he said, later adding, "I'm doing foreign policy as we saw it. The whole thing. Cambodia is one chapter in 34."
Kissinger said he spends half of his time working on the second volume of his book. The first volume is already written. It's "at least 1,300 pages. The second won't be as long," he explained. "But in the first, I have a lot of introductory material - like where I was born, my dog . . ."
Valeriani could not resist a stab at the Kissinger book either. "He's got it down to 2,500 pages," Valeriani said during remarks to the crowd, "which gets him up to his bar mitzvah. He resisted calling it "Travels with Richard."
Kissinger stayed about an hour and 20 minutes, while his wife, Nancy, waited patiently as did another large man in dark glasses who identified himself as "a friend of the family." Nancy Kissinger has read part of the Valeriani book. "I take it with me on airplanes," she said.
Kissinger nodded when asked about the part in the book that said he was never nervous during negotiations. "More tense than nervous," he said, sipping some white wine. Now he looks calm, almost sleek-figured after losing 40 pounds.
Some of Valeriani's colleagues could not make it, pleading preparation for the plane ride to Vienna and the summit talks at 6 this morning. Valeriani also has to be on that plane.
The colleagues who came praised the book, and claimed credit. "We wrote it," one said, snatching up a copy and flipping to page 400, finding his name in an anecdote. "See - half the book is mine." CAPTION: Picture, Richard Valeriani with Nancy and Henry Kissinger; by Harry Naltchayan