"Hooray and hallelujah. You've got it coming to you. Congratulations, Mr. President. Or congratulations, Mr. President-Elect."
As these words are written, I don't know whether it is Jimmy Carter's or Ronald Reagan's day to celebrate. But whoever is rejoicing when these words are in print, I say, just like the song, "Goody-goody for you. And I hope you're satisfied, you rascal, you."
This column was written in the near-terminal stage of campaign fatigue, as you might have gathered by now, and in that strange mood a sense of enormous relief that it is finally over is mixed with the sudden realization that a lot of it was wonderful fun that cannot be relived.
The campaign began for me a year ago in Waterloo, Iowa. On my first night ever in that town, I was taken home for dinner by a dashing local lawyer named Henry Cutler, a man with a passion for both politics and theater.He threw a steak on the broiler himself, because his wife, Lynn, was out already campaigning for Congress. Two weeks ago, he had a hear attack and did not live to see the campaign end.
Astonishingly, almost every Iowan one met was as hospitable as Hank Cutler, making you understand why Gov. Bob Ray's politics of decency could last as long as it has.
New Hamshire came next and provided the worst and best nights of the whole campaign. The worst? The evening I decided Lou Cannon and I could best cover the Republican candidates' debate in Manchester from the TV's in our motel -- only to discover at the hour the debate began that it was not on live television in Manchester. That phone call to the office was a bit difficult.
The best night? The visit to a secluded restaurant, off in the New Hampshire woods, where a Swiss emigre cooked in an 18th-century kitchen for a clientele of six. Its name, I will whisper, is the Silver Quail. But even if you find your way, which is not easy, you will not have the company of those superbly charming politicians, Susan McLane and Liz Hager, and their husbands, as we did.
They were not the only heroines of New Hampshire. Dudley Dudley and Joanne Symons rank right up there, for persevering in the cause of Edward Kennedy when they knew -- far earlier than most -- that Democrats in 1980 were not buying what Kennedy was selling.
This was a year when the women were distinguished by both their numbers and their quality. It was in the Oregon primary that I first realized, with a start, that every presidential headquarters in Portland was being run by a woman. When I got to Conneticut this fall, it was no surprise that Carter and Reagan were being managed by two marvelously shrewd old pros named Patti Knox and Mary Ann Knous -- who became good friends during their common away-from-home assignment, candidate polyaties notwithstanding.
Conneticut taught me a lesson in the falsity of clich assumptions. Reagan's primary campaign was managed by Tony Nania, whose Republican loyalties did not keep him from taking a day off for the funeral of his mentor and hero, liberal activist Allard Lowenstein -- another of the good friends who will not be around to add joy to another campaign.
There were other unexpected discoveries, none more surprising than Jerry Brown's dignity in defeat. His Wisconsin primary campaign was a travesty, and the night before the vote, he was bouncing off the walls of the Pfister Hotel in frustration. But when he lost, he took it with good grace, accepting the blame himself and staying around to console his workers.
John Connally and Howard Baker did just as well in their concession statements, but somehow you expect that of the old pros.
Kennedy enlisted by sympathy -- and that of many others -- by his fortitude in what he knew was a losing fight. His chipperness wa a daily rebuttal to the slurs on his character or courage.
I am prejudiced in Kennedy's favor, and I might as well admit it, because his charter flight circled Mount St. Helen's for a 15-minute view, barely 24 hours before that beautiful mountain blew its top off and became a mound of gray ash.
I thought that was a good story to bring home from Oregon, until I learned that Jack Germond of The Washington Star had once again scooped me -- taking off from Portland airport just as the volcano was erupting. Curse you, Germond.
One other happy memory: the look on John Anderson's face when he came onstage at Boston University, back last winter, and discovered that he, Mr. Mild-Mannered Unknown, could not only fill a college auditorium to overflowing but inflame the youths to screaming passion merely by stepping from behind the curtain.
I hope he has many such memories to treasure today, and I hope Tuesday's other losers, whatever their names, have their own to console them. Cheers to all of them. And just think, it won't be long until another campaign begins.