She was the communications director for the Democratic Party and he was the communications director for the Republican Party. And now they are together under one roof.
But this is a story not of love, but of politics (which makes it a Washington story). The roof that Susan Morrison and Peter Teeley are under together is the roof of the office of George Bush for President.
Morrison has resigned from her job of doing press agentry for Jimmy Carter's Democratic Party and has gone to do press agentry to help Republican George Bush knock Jimmy Carter out of the presidency. She has become the deputy to her old opposite number, Teeley, who is Bush's new campaign press secretary.
"I'm not a very strong ideologue," Morrison explains for all those who couldn't tell. And she adds:
"Movement is big in politics. . . Politics is nothing but change and movement." Which is about as good a definition of how the production line works in this company town as anyone can get.
It was about a year ago when Teeley and Morrison first got to know each other; they were adversaries in their Republican and Democratic Party roles and they sat down to a lunch together in a burst of professional ecumenism. Later they got to know each other's work professionally when Teeley was putting together the Republican Party's cross-country tax blitz to promote the Kemp-Roth bill to cut income taxes, and Morrison was putting out Democratic Party press releases attacking the scheme as irresponsible.
Morrison's releases, she points out, were always in the name of her boss, Democratic Party Chairman John White. "Not once did I put out a press release that said Jimmy Carter is the greatest thing since sliced bread," she says.
When Teeley left the Republican Party recently to join the Bush campaign, he says he began to think of people who could work with him-and even run things without him if need be. And when he started making lists of "people who are professional and responsible and capable" he'd write down a number of known Republicans, but he'd always have in the back of his mind that his old adversary and friendly registered Democraft, Morrison, was as good as and probably better than all of them.
So he wondered if she would be interested.
Meanwhile, Morrison was sitting at the Democratic National Committee headquarters thinking that one thing she really wanted to do was get involved in the 1980 presidential campaign.
"I like campaigns," she says. "They're great fun." (She had been field director for Frank Church's 1976 presidential campaign.) Morrison says it became clear to her that she did not fit into the plans of the people who were running the 1980 Carter campaign. "The president has the people he wants," she says.
Would she have taken a job with the Carter campaign? "I wasn't offered one," she says.
Washington breeds political people the way New Orleans breeds jazz people and Boston breeds distincitvely accented people who have trouble telling you that they have just parked-the-car-in-Harvard-Yard. Being a political person without a candidate in Washington in a campaign year is like being a gambling person without chips in Las Vegas in any year. A feeling of frustration sets in.
And Morrison was wondering if she would be feeling that way when Teeley called with his job offer.
Now that she is going to work for George Bush, however, Morrison is not ready to dump on Jimmy Carter. "I think Jimmy Carter has been a good president," she says. "And I think George Bush is a fine candidate and that he'd make a fine president and that he has fine people around him. . . They offered me this job and it sounded like a fun thing to do."
But not everything about the change of jobs and politics has been fun for Morrison. That is because of the nature of Washington and some of the people in it. Some view jobs in this city with the eyes of party loyalists, others with the eyes of professional managers.
And so, while Democratic National Committee Chairman John White was supportive and understanding of her decision, Morrison says, there have been others at the DNC who were not.
"People kept coming up to me and saying, 'What are your doing?'" she says. "I got a lot of expletives deleted from some of the true believers. I got called a whore a couple of times."
She has decided, instead of getting angry or upset, just to wax philosophic. She explains:
"I just keep telling myself, 'Them that's my friends stays my friends. And them that ain't my friends-well, that's just the way it goes.'"
EPILOGUE: Meanwhile, back at the White House, Carter officials reacted variously to the news that Susan Morrison was leaving Jimmy Carter for George Bush. Some thought it was too bad. Some thought it was amusing. Some did not know who she was. And one White House aide asked another:
"If Susan Morrison is going to work for George Bush, can John White be far behind?"