It would be inaccurate to say that talk of Alexander Haig entirely dominated two parties on the official circuit last night. But it certainly added a juicy bit of intrigue to chew on with the sausages.
Those were served at a Capitol Hill reception for Sen. William Cohen (r-Maine) in honor of his book, "Roll Call." Across town, Brazilian Ambassador Antonio Silveira was having a dinner for Henry Kissinger. This was fancy: chandeliers, candlelight, huge sprays of flowers, dressed-up socialites. And a Swiss television crew doing a special on Kissinger.
Cohen's reception, given by the political consulting firm of Smith and Haroff, was semi-fancy: lots of press stopping by after work, exposed brick walls, office plants, clean-cut Republicans. And Cohen, who said his book about life in the Senate has "flaws and deficiences, but to me, writing it was an enjoyable experience."
At both places, most everybody had something to say about Haig.
"I've been to two parties tonight," said White House aide Mike Deaver, "and all I've done is talk to reporters."
"Well, that's what you get for going out when there's a flap afoot," said one in the herd.
"Flap, flap, flap," responded Deaver, "what flap?"
Alexander Haig, that's what. Did he offer to resign?
"No," said Deaver.
Then he spied Henry Kissinger. The former secretary of state. And former player of palace politics who said: "This is a tempest in a teapot. At the beginning of an administration, there are always these adjustments. Some become public, and some don't."
"Do you have a minute that I could talk to you?" Deaver said to Kissinger.
Kissinger certainly did. So off they disappeared, far into a shadowy corner of the Brazilian ambassador's house.
Back on Capitol Hill at Smith and Harroff, senior partner Jay Smith offered his own thoughts on Haig."I think he started to believe his own press," he said. "You know, when you get on the cover of Time magazine and it says 'Taking Charge,' that's heady stuff."
From Olympia Snowe, the Republican representative from Maine, at Smith and Harroff: "I think he just blurted it out," she said, meaning Haig's statement that he was unhappy about Vice President George Bush's position as head of the crisis management team."I think he probably was stunned by it."
By the time the Smith and Harroff party was windinbg down, the one for Kissinger at the Brazilian ambassador's house was just beginning. You may wonder why there was a party for Kissinger, since Washington parties -- at least official Washington parties -- seldom are given for people without titles before their names.
"We are friends," said Kissinger of himself and the ambassador. "We are genuinely friends. It may surprise you, but there is no particular reason."
"Just a party for a friend," piped up the ambassador, who was Brazil's foreign minister when Kissinger was secretary of state. They worked well together, he added.
"But not that we agreed on everything," he said. "It is boring to agree on everything."
Kissinger is currently writing volume two of his memoirs.
"What does it weigh?" somebody asked.
"Five pounds," signed Nancy Kissinger, his wife.