The ties, not the eyes, are now the windows of the soul.
"It's a little cameo of Adam Smith," FTC Commissioner James Miller, who has been nominated to replace David Stockman as director of the Office of Management and Budget, said last night as he patted his maroon tie emblazoned with little golden heads. "This is a Model 1. There are five models of Adam Smith ties. You see how wide this one is? You can tell it's old. I have about 12 of them, total. I wear an Adam Smith tie every working day."
Miller was very happy to talk about his tie at the party celebrating the appearance of the 1986 edition of "The Almanac of American Politics" at the offices of the National Journal, which publishes the reference book. The man replacing David "Outspoken" Stockman was, however, less voluble about the budget's, Stockman's and his various futures.
"I have no idea what David's planning to write about," Miller said of Stockman's planned book.
"No comment," he said of the stalemated federal budget.
"I'm not going to talk about anything substantive before I'm confirmed," he said about everything else.
The official theme of the party was, according to the invitation, "a reunion of The Summer of '84." While the rest of the country may connect that particular summer with the Olympics, the assorted journalists, consultants, lobbyists and politicians who attended the party -- among them CBS' Lesley Stahl, Republican consultant Roger Stone, Gray and Co.'s Frank Mankiewicz and Sen. Alan K. Simpson (R-Wyo.) -- were expected to wax nostalgic about the Democratic convention in San Francisco and the Republican convention in Dallas.
To help them along, San Francisco was evoked by California wine and tray after tray of fruit and cheese, and Dallas by tortilla chips and Lone Star beer.
"I didn't go to Dallas," said Mankiewicz. "Somebody had to mind the store. I think the only reason I'm at Gray and Company is so somebody can watch the store while everyone's at Republican conventions."
It all seemed very long ago, said John Glenn's presidential campaign press secretary Greg Schneiders.
"It seemed very long ago at the time," he added. Now, he said, he is "looking forward to how much happier the next convention will be. If you get one good presidential candidate it can change the image of the party overnight. Lee Iacocca or someone like that, someone who's fresh."
Roger Stone has been traveling with Rep. Jack Kemp (R-N.Y.) lately, so one would assume he's looking toward '88 rather than back to '84. But, he said, it's much too early for any of that.
"My wife, however, is doing Kemp's direct mail fund raising," he said.
"His signature definitely pulls," said Ann Stone. "He reaches very definitely into hard money and investments."
"Hard money means gold," said Stone.
In the end, the nostalgia theme was largely limited to its gastronomic manifestations. The rest of the crowd contented itself with talking about the upcoming Bruce Springsteen concert ("I've never been to a concert in a stadium. Ever."), apologizing to Almanac authors Michael Barone and Grant Ujifusa for failure to purchase one of the many copies prominently displayed ("The office gets it") or doing the standard book party smile-shake-congratulate-and-move-on.
By the fruit and cheese, Simpson was digging in.
"It's useful," he said of the book that had provided the excuse for all those grapes and crackers. "I used it when I was in conference on the immigration bill with representatives I didn't know from Adam, to get to know about their districts and the pressures on them. I'd read 'fig growers,' and I'd say, 'Oh, Jesus!' "