What kind of junkie goes to a book party at the Phillips Collection and doesn't even glance at what's on the walls? Who would be indifferent to the Impressionists but raring to chew over last year's presidential campaign?
"Political nymphomaniacs," suggested Reagan deputy campaign manager turned public relations man Lee Atwater. (Pages 262, 373, etc., in case you were wondering. They certainly were.)
They being Reagan people, Mondale people, Ferraro and Hart people, and news people, their backs to Manet -- (Manet? Didn't he work for the Democrats?) -- looking for a fix.
The occasion was the publication of "The Quest for the Presidency 1984" by Newsweek magazine senior editors Peter Goldman and Tony Fuller. With six other Newsweek correspondents they dogged the campaigns of the major candidates before and after the election, collecting the accounts that figure in what the dust jacket calls "an unprecedented behind-the-scenes account" of the '84 campaign.
"What we were after was a view of life in the fast lane of politics. The cheeseburgers at midnight, the improvisation, the accidental decisions taken for good and whimsical reasons," said coauthor Goldman as the waiters circulated and the guests, felled by the Phillips' quaint cooling system (open windows) perspired, sweated and glowed.
The book appeared to come not a moment too soon for the crowd at the Phillips, who, despite their off-election year tans and tennis legs, looked a little lonesome for the glory days.
Well, not everyone.
"It's sort of depressing because it's looking back," said Mondale campaign press secretary Maxine Isaacs (205, 282, 284 . . .)
There was the usual jesting about the "Washington read," which consists of a flip through the index in search of one's name. "I always thought what I'd do was list people in the index but not put them in the book," said former Carter press secretary turned political columnist Jody Powell.
It's too soon for formal book reviews, but the partisans at the Phillips were generous in their praise.
And precise. "Have I read it?" asked Richard Darman, former presidential assistant turned deputy secretary of the Treasury: "212, 210, 214 . . ."