There's nothing like a friend with lots of friends. Especially when you've just written a book. And if the book is about power, and the friend's friends are powerful, it makes for a good book party.
Eppie Lederer's -- a k a Ann Landers -- boyfriend Warren Bennis, coauthor of "Leaders: The Strategies for Taking Charge," hit on that magic combination last night at the party Lederer hosted for him.
Several guests had the Kennedy Center concert for Rajiv Gandhi and the Festival of India on their agenda last night, but that didn't keep one of America's favorite columnists from attracting some of her famous friends. Ducking in and out of the cocktail party at the Ritz-Carlton were Elliot Richardson, Jack Valenti, Anne Wexler, Helga Orfila, Dr. Jonas Salk, Art Buchwald, Sen. Larry Pressler (R-S.D.) and Rep. Claude Pepper (D-Fla.). And they made no bones about it: They were there for Eppie.
"I came to pay my respects," said Pepper. "She is a great American and influences a lot of lives. I read her column all the time."
"She's an extremely intelligent woman," said Richardson. "Her advice is truly sound."
"I met Eppie in the '40s," said Ellen Proxmire, wife of the Wisconsin senator. "She was the Eau Claire County chairman for the Wisconsin Democratic party . She signed up 600 members in a time when the state was totally controlled by the Republican Party. Now we dominate the state."
But her political track record hasn't lost any friends for Lederer. "We first met at a wedding 10 years ago when I was in the House," said Pressler, "and we've been in touch ever since."
Pressler, who was "hoping to get away from politics for a little while," kept an ear on his beeper for a call back to the Senate for debate on the Clean Water Act.
"Mind if I bring a couple of surprise guests?" called out Buchwald, one of the first arrivals. He then swept in with Salk, who got a mention in "Leaders," and his wife Franc,oise Gilot, author of "My Life With Picasso."
Buchwald was right at home talking about power, particularly about "Leaders' " contention that "we are a nation suffering from a serious power blockage." Buchwald agreed that we don't have the leaders we once had, but "that's good for me, I have no complaint. I wouldn't have anything to write about otherwise.
"They put fromage on my table," he concluded, biting into a cracker spread with cheese.
Between last night's party and the one she just gave at her home in Chicago, Lederer has done a lot to promote Bennis' book, which he cowrote with Burt Nanus, but the queen of advice insisted she didn't dabble in the book itself.
"I stay out of his work," she said.
"I've quoted her, but not in this book," said Bennis, a professor at the University of Southern California and the author of 13 other books on management and leadership. "She's one of the people who nudged me along," he said, smiling at her affectionately.