Man about town Chip Muldoon phoned the other day, very upset at the summit. He was calling from home. He'd tried to go downtown, but he couldn't get out of his driveway -- all the roads in his neighborhood were blocked off. And Chip lives in Gaithersburg!
"The summit's cramped my style," Chip complained. "How can I be a man about town if the streets are closed?"
Chip then declared himself Officially Sick of the Summit.
"Sick of these police barricades. They're everywhere. I saw one in front of a 7-Eleven. What are they afraid of -- that terrorists are going to heave Slurpees at Gorbachev? I'm also sick of the bright yellow police tape. I almost garroted myself just walking around the corner; they don't have enough red tape in this city already? And I'm sick to death of C-SPAN. Get another camera angle, dammit, this isn't 1953, we're not watching Uncle Miltie. ... And by the way, I'm skeptical of why Gorbachev gets out of the limo so often. If I had the whole street to myself -- plus diplomatic immunity -- I'd try to get it up to 85 or 90. I think we should watch him carefully in the crowds. He may be picking pockets, trying to get some hard currency."
Mainly, Chip was upset because he was one of only nine people in Washington who hadn't shaken Gorbachev's hand in either 1987 or 1990. "Nobody's worked the streets this hard since Baretta, and I never even saw him," Chip said bitterly. "Everywhere I'd go, someone would say, 'You just missed it. He had a Movement.' And of course I didn't know whether to be angry or grateful; I mean, what kind of term is that, 'a Movement'? " Chip sighed. "I guess I hung out at the wrong places."
"Where were you mostly?" I asked.
"Upper Northwest, Western and Wisconsin."
"There's a Giant. The Gorb's gonna want to stock up on Hungry Man dinners, borscht helper and vat-a-soup. Why do you think the summit's been going on for five days? These guys are getting so much food here they've chained themselves to the salad bar."
Chip asked me if I'd seen anybody famous. I said that on Friday, I saw Alan Cranston driving down 16th Street after congressional leaders met with Gorbachev at the Soviet Embassy. "Big deal," Chip said. "I've seen him in jogging shorts. Looks like a pelican." I said I saw Rudy Boschwitz. "Who's he?" Chip asked. "Is he one of the Hogs?"
I thought Chip's view of the summit was myopic, so I pointed out agreements Bush and Gorbachev had signed: to trade, to end chemical warfare, to slash long-range weapons production, to cooperate on ocean research, to triple air travel between our countries, to expand student exchanges.
"What's in it for me?" Chip asked. (Man about town Chip Muldoon is nothing if not self-absorbed.) "I can pick up some frequent flier miles, and maybe get an au pair from the student exchange. Other than that, bupkus."
"You don't care about trade?"
"Trade? They can't find four loaves of bread in all of Leningrad. What have they got to trade, potash?"
Chip wasn't the only one down on the summit. My smart friend Martha thought it was so boring they should have called it "The Plummet." She was upset at how uncreative the party guest lists were; she'd have invited Ivan Boesky, Fred the Furrier and the Walker family. Even Gorbachev bored her the second time around. "So he got out of his car again -- how original is that? And when he does walk around, it turns out he's incredibly short."
I like when Gorbachev gets out of his Zil. (Oh, for one day as a traffic cop, just to be able to tell Gorby's driver, "I don't care who you have in there, buddy, get the zil out of here.") One thing about the summit confuses me, though.
If this is such a big deal, shouldn't we at least have gotten a halftime score? And partial scores from Lithuania and Germany?
"You evaluate a lot of the winner and loser stuff three and four years down the road -- like draft choices," says Bob Drummond of the Dallas Times Herald.
But who's winning now?
I'm tired of turning on the TV and seeing gray-suited Russians, Ivy League professors and washed-up negotiators droning on like old refrigerators. Deliver me from equivocating intellectuals. Give me an analyst who weighs 300 pounds, uses an electronic chalkboard and drives a bus. Give me John Madden, and for heaven's sake give me replays.
" ... Let's stop it right there. You see Gorbachev getting out of his car, and moving to his left. Okay, now look at the Soviet bodyguard block down hard on the yuppie lawyer in suspenders. Boom! Let's see that block again. Boom! Puts the lawyer right on his pin-striped keister in the middle of the crosswalk. Oh, I love a big hit like that. And look here, it clears out a wide path, and you see Gorby going untouched to the sidewalk ... "