The Ultimate Washington coffee table book of 1985 may turn out to be a collection of faces, not places. Published by Harry N. Abrams Inc., "People and Power: Portraits From the Federal Village" comes out next month in catalogue form when the exhibition ofthe same name is unveiled at the Corcoran Gallery of Art.
What makes this exhibition distinctive is that the portraits are of contemporary movers and shakers as seen through the exquisitely focused lens of White House photographer Michael Evans. In the four years he's been Ronald Reagan's personal photographer, Evans has had this screwy idea that "Washington is a village where everybody knows everybody else."
Syndicated political columnist George Will has written a preface for the catalogue, setting the record straight. Everybody isn't really everybody, according to Will. Rather, everybody is "a governing class . . . 'conspicuous Washington' composed of not more and probably a lot fewer than 5,000 persons."
"What we have here is a class picture. It is a picture of the ruling class," proclaims class biographer Will.
Definitely on the A-list of Inaugural Week festivities, the exhibition, cosponsored by the American Express Travel Related Services Company and CBS Magazine, opens to the ruling class on Jan. 14 and to the hoi polloi the next day.
Don't be surprised if you see "rulers" portrayed who don't draw government paychecks. Admitting that he's biased, Evans included portraits of several photographers who he thinks are especially powerful because "they control what the rest of the country sees of Washington officialdom."
Also among Evans' power elite are lobbyists, political consultants, White House chefs -- and yes, folks, even syndicated political columnists.
It's hardly the sort of thing you'd expect the wife of the White House chief of staff to know. Yet the Saturday night before the election it was to his wife Susan that James A. Baker III telephoned from aboard Air Force One asking what it would take to get community activist Mitch Snyder to end his life-threatening fast.
"The president knew about it and did not want Mitch to die," Susan Baker says in the January issue of The Washington Woman. "I told Jimmy what our committee had recommended and what Mitch had asked . . . "
The way she tells it, the decision to rehabilitate the shelter for the homeless at Second and D streets NW, which Snyder wanted, "came from the president. It really wasn't a political decision. The president really didn't want to see the guy die."
If Susan Baker's other life working among Washington's hungry and homeless has not been publicized, it's at her insistence, not the White House's. Though quiet-spoken and modest, she is no shrinking violet. As a cofounder in 1983 of the Committee for Food and Shelter Inc., she has taken advantage of her insider status and on behalf of the hungry and homeless lobbied Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, Health and Human Services Secretary Margaret Heckler, Secretary of State George Shultz and even President Reagan.
On at least a half dozen occasions, Susan Baker was praying at Mitch Snyder's bedside while members of his Community for Creative Non-Violence (CCNV) demonstrated across from the White House.
If the White House isn't going to the dogs, it isn't because the Reagans' 11-week-old black sheep dog, Lucky, and the Secret Service aren't doing their part. On Friday, for instance, a Secret Service fingerprint expert took Lucky's paw print.
Not because she's a suspected felon, mind you, but because she's getting behind in her thank-you notes, says Sheila Tate, press secretary to Nancy Reagan. The paw print will be Lucky's signature. Her Christmas mail has brought in a gift certificate for grooming, a sweater, several Christmas stockings filled with dog biscuits and "lots and lots" of cards.
Tate said gifts to Lucky, like those to the Reagans, are being evaluated and logged by the White House gift unit "if Lucky doesn't eat them first."
Yesterday, in what could have been a last-minute appeal to Santa Claus, President Reagan told aides at a picture-taking session with Mrs. Reagan and Lucky in front of the family Christmas tree that his sock wardrobe is under siege. When he started to put his socks on Sunday at Camp David he found that something had chewed them full of holes.
When Amy Garrison, 5, of Clarksville, Ind., added her favorite Christmas ornament, a tin Santa riding a bicycle, to the 2,800 hanging on the White House tree during the party for diplomatic children two weeks ago, little did she expect it to become the one bauble everybody asks to see.
"I know she'll be happy to hear that," Amy's mother, Teresa Garrison, reportedly told Nancy Reagan, who called to wish Amy a speedy recovery from her 8 1/2-hour liver transplant operation Friday at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas.
Amy was flown to Dallas when there was no room in the intensive care unit of Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. Dr. Thomas Starzl, a pioneer in liver transplants, flew from Pittsburgh to Canada to collect the donated liver, then on to Dallas, where Baylor's Dr. Goran Klintmalm and Amy awaited him in the operating room.
Yesterday, a hospital spokeswoman described Amy's condition as "serious" but said her new liver, donated by the parents of a Canadian boy, is working well. "She's not quite ready for Christmas pudding but she was able to tell her mother she was hungry," said the spokeswoman. "And Santa is dropping in this afternoon."