The voice was familiar and so were the sentiments, though not necessarily together.
Point: "We and our major allies have fallen apart. . . . We and they seem to fall over each other repudiating positions taken by the other."
Point: "A vital historically independent nation, one whose people care about the possibility of independence, has been crushed by Soviet invasion tanks and planes and the world can do very little except engage in empty rhetoric."
Point: "A poll by our own information agency . . . reveals that America has never been held in lower esteem among our major allies than we are now."
The conclusion, Hodding Carter's taped voice continued as some three dozen high-level State Department, diplomatic and media guests listened in rapt fascination at his farewell dinner last night, was even more unexpected.
"I've outlined why American voters must repudiate the last four years and elect Kennedy," said Hodding Carter.
Or did he?
Well sort of, confessed John Wallach, the Hearst Newspapers' foreign editor and chief diplomatic correspondent who has covered Hodding Carter III, assistant secretary of state and the department's principal spokesman, for the past 3 1/2 years.
Carter actually said all that stuff -- but 20 years ago in a speech he gave in Hawaii urging support of John F. Kennedy. As a gag, Wallach simply edited out the words "John F." Suddenly, it all sounded so current.
It seemed the perfect farewell gag to play on Carter at an intimate little dinner whose guests included Deputy Secretary of State Warren Christopher, Assistant Secretary Harold H. Saunders, Israeli Ambassador Ephraim Evron and Egyptian Mnister Conselor Hussein Housani.
"There are a lot of people who think that Hodding Carter resigned because of Jimmy Carter's indelicate remark that Cy Vance lacked a certain statesmanship," Wallach began in introducing what he called "The equivalent of the 18 1/2-minute tape."
"Is this a smoking gun?" asked NBC-TV correspondent Richard Valeriani in a stage whisper.
The way Wallach told it, Hodding Carter, who will step down on July 1, really resigned because he was in disagreement with Jimmy Carter's foreign policy.
"Wait a minute, John," interrupted Patt Derian, who is married to Hodding Carter and doesn't intend to resign her job as assistant secretary of state for human rights until next January.
For his part, Hodding Carter wore a broad grin, a somewhat rare expression for the man whose somber countenance and cool manner made him celebrity in millions of American homes tuned in nightly to network television for the latest on the Iranian hostages.
"Ambiguity becomes power, power leads to friendships and friendship leads to agents," teased CBS-TV correspondent Bernard Kalb of Carter's affiliation with the William Morris Agency.
As for Iran, Kalb, who delivered daily reports from the State Department with regularity equal to Carter's press briefings, told Warren Christopher that "the single triumph of the week" was the way the administration succeeded in putting Iran on a back burner during President Carter's summit talks.
"It's not off my mind," said Christopher, "though unquestionably the rescue mission had a psychological effect. We're sort of on hold."
John and Janet Wallach's al fresco farewell to Carter took the form of an All-American picnic with a chicken in every basket, homemade potato salad, boxes of Crackerjacks, and lots of vintage wine. It was an appropriate tribute to someone Janet Wallach called "the ultimate all-American boy."