This must be September. The inveterate Washington pastime of cocktail-hour politicking and media courting was off to a grand start last night, just a skip away from the White House.

The guest list resembled a Republican Rolodex, with names like Meese, Haig, Wick, Smith, and Viguerie bouncing about Maison Blanche for Simon and Schuster's celebration of "Monimbo'."

This, of course, could have had a bit to do with who wrote the new book--Robert Moss, a former editor at "The Economist," and Arnaud de Borchgrave, a former Newsweek correspondent whom White House Chief of Staff James Baker once labeled "a good conservative." It also could have something to do with the fact that the president reportedly included the novel in his summer reading.

"HELLO, chief!!" de Borchgrave called to presidential counselor Edwin Meese, coming just short of hugging him.

"Well, hello, Arnaud," replied the presidential counselor. "Real good to see you."

"It is an incredible book," said Ursula Meese. "One of the best books I've ever read . . . It captures you."

A sequel to "The Spike"--the best-selling novel about the Soviet threat by the same duo, "Monimbo'" is about conspiracy in Central America. Yesterday's news--at the moment. This party was hot with Russian talk, and the controversy surrounding the Soviet downing of a Korean airliner last week. A old-time Cold War journalist who has also dodged bullets with the best of them, de Borchgrave was soaking it all up.

"What else could the president do?" said the author, a Reagan fan, about the president's sanctions against the Soviet Union. "It was not a U.S. plane. It was a Korean plane. It proves once and for all that the president is not a loose cannon on deck."

Not all guests were as pleased with the president's response. "Abysmally! Abominably!" said Conservative Digest publisher Richard Viguerie, about how the president responded to the Soviets. "A good part of the 1980 election was devoted to showing how Jimmy Carter was not handling foreign policy right and not tough enough on the Russians. And here in his moment of truth, when he is eyeball to eyeball with the Russians, Ronald Reagan never even drew his gun out of the holster. He blinks and backs off. I think he owes Jimmy Carter an apology."

Former secretary of state Alexander Haig and former national security adviser Richard Allen greeted each other like veterans of the same war often do, and sung the adminstration's praises on the handling of the Soviet crisis. It could be the only time the two men have agreed on anything.

"Well, I must say it was handled superbly," said Haig. "I think we must be very careful always to look at long-term results . . ."

Looking tan and somewhat happier than when he attended the same parties as secretary of state, Haig said he is about to finish his own book on foreign policy for spring publication by Macmillian.

"I wish we were publishing it," lamented Richard Snyder, president of Simon and Schuster.

"You didn't bid high enough," said Haig.

Meanwhile, over by the shrimp, FBI Director William Webster threw bouquets of praise at coauthor Moss on the accuracy of the book. Also circulating through the crowd of about 200 were Attorney General William French Smith, U.S. Information Agency chief Charles Z. Wick, Sen. Jermiah Denton (R-Ala.), talk show host Larry King and a gaggle of other working and nonworking journalists.

"I would say that about half the Cabinet read it," said Moss. "Perhaps because the president did."

And will we be seeing the book's hero (and that of "The Spike"), journalist Robert Hockney, once again?

"Well," said Moss in his crisp Australian accent, "if I were Hockney, I might be looking at a new oil crisis in the Persian Gulf that could erupt into another Mideast war. Or perhaps at the unification of Germany. Yes, if I were Hockney, I'd be hanging around the shady bars of Berlin. In a dirty Hot Book, Cold Wars Celebrating a New Novel By 'The Spike' Team By Lois Romano

This must be September. The inveterate Washington pastime of cocktail-hour politicking and media courting was off to a grand start last night, just a skip away from the White House.

The guest list resembled a Republican Rolodex, with names like Meese, Haig, Wick, Smith, and Viguerie bouncing about Maison Blanche for Simon and Schuster's celebration of "Monimbo'."

This, of course, could have had a bit to do with who wrote the new book--Robert Moss, a former editor at "The Economist," and Arnaud de Borchgrave, a former Newsweek correspondent whom White House Chief of Staff James Baker once labeled "a good conservative." It also could have something to do with the fact that the president reportedly included the novel in his summer reading.

"HELLO, chief!!" de Borchgrave called to presidential counselor Edwin Meese, coming just short of hugging him.

"Well, hello, Arnaud," replied the presidential counselor. "Real good to see you."

"It is an incredible book," said Ursula Meese. "One of the best books I've ever read . . . It captures you."

A sequel to "The Spike"--the best-selling novel about the Soviet threat by the same duo, "Monimbo'" is about conspiracy in Central America. Yesterday's news--at the moment. This party was hot with Russian talk, and the controversy surrounding the Soviet downing of a Korean airliner last week. A old-time Cold War journalist who has also dodged bullets with the best of them, de Borchgrave was soaking it all up.

"What else could the president do?" said the author, a Reagan fan, about the president's sanctions against the Soviet Union. "It was not a U.S. plane. It was a Korean plane. It proves once and for all that the president is not a loose cannon on deck."

Not all guests were as pleased with the president's response. "Abysmally! Abominably!" said Conservative Digest publisher Richard Viguerie, about how the president responded to the Soviets. "A good part of the 1980 election was devoted to showing how Jimmy Carter was not handling foreign policy right and not tough enough on the Russians. And here in his moment of truth, when he is eyeball to eyeball with the Russians, Ronald Reagan never even drew his gun out of the holster. He blinks and backs off. I think he owes Jimmy Carter an apology."

Former secretary of state Alexander Haig and former national security adviser Richard Allen greeted each other like veterans of the same war often do, and sung the adminstration's praises on the handling of the Soviet crisis. It could be the only time the two men have agreed on anything.

"Well, I must say it was handled superbly," said Haig. "I think we must be very careful always to look at long-term results . . ."

Looking tan and somewhat happier than when he attended the same parties as secretary of state, Haig said he is about to finish his own book on foreign policy for spring publication by Macmillian.

"I wish we were publishing it," lamented Richard Snyder, president of Simon and Schuster.

"You didn't bid high enough," said Haig.

Meanwhile, over by the shrimp, FBI Director William Webster threw bouquets of praise at coauthor Moss on the accuracy of the book. Also circulating through the crowd of about 200 were Attorney General William French Smith, U.S. Information Agency chief Charles Z. Wick, Sen. Jermiah Denton (R-Ala.), talk show host Larry King and a gaggle of other working and nonworking journalists.

"I would say that about half the Cabinet read it," said Moss. "Perhaps because the president did."

And will we be seeing the book's hero (and that of "The Spike"), journalist Robert Hockney, once again?

"Well," said Moss in his crisp Australian accent, "if I were Hockney, I might be looking at a new oil crisis in the Persian Gulf that could erupt into another Mideast war. Or perhaps at the unification of Germany. Yes, if I were Hockney, I'd be hanging around the shady bars of Berlin. In a dirty trenchcoat, of course."

Of course.