The National Women's Political Caucus last night assembled an odd collection of men for its first annual "good guys" awards dinner, and darned if any of them really wanted to say why he thought he was there.
"I don't know," said Alan Alda, the actor. "You have to ask them that. I'm not giving any personal interviews tonight."
"Oh, go on," encouraged Robert Squier, the political consultant and another awardee. "Say what you said to me earlier."
"What did I say?" asked a baffled Alda.
"You know," said Squier, "about how you represent all people. That was kind of nice . . ."
Both men guffawed heartily.
For $150 last night at the L'Enfant Plaza Hotel, several hundred women (mostly) got a chance to sidle up to Alda, Squier, Phil Donahue and six others, all of whom the NWPC had anointed heroes.
The other awardees were pollster Pat Caddell; Rep. Don Edwards (D-Calif); Sen. Bob Packwood (R-Ore.); Democratic fundraiser and philanthropist Stewart Mott; Ralph Neas, director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights; and Good Housekeeping editor-in-chief John Mack Carter. Also honored but not present were cartoonist Garry Trudeau, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley and San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros.
The men were ushered into a room early on for a press opportunity that looked more like a coming-out party. For such a wide-ranging collection of egos, they seemed rather self-effacing. Donahue, of course, understood perfectly well why he was selected.
"I feel very fortunate to have a show, produced by women, that reflects what is happening in the country . . . the changes in attitudes," he said.
NWPC National Chair Irene Natividad explained the awards this way: "As an organization, we have always given awards to women. There are a lot of men out there who are not doing us any good, and we wanted to show that there were a number of men out there working for us."
Besides, it was certainly a good way to raise money. And get Alan Alda's autograph.