The Nation: Henry Kissinger Off Duty

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ALMOST every night in Washington seems to be Henry Kissinger night. His presence enlivens any occasion. This season's social lion, Soviet Poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko, asked for an invitation to a party that Marion Javits was throwing for Kissinger. In the course of the evening, Yevtushenko had a private conversation with Kissinger, then slipped off his wristwatch and pressed it into Kissinger's hand—confirming who knows what international arrangement.

The Kissinger wit can always be counted on. As a guest speaker at the Washington Press Club's annual congressional dinner last week, Kissinger mocked his reputation as a secret swinger. Noting that Gloria Steinem had said that she "is not now and never has been a girl friend" of his, Kissinger declared that he was not discouraged. "After all, she did not say that if nominated she would not accept, or if elected she would not serve."

Power has made Kissinger blossom. When he was a professor of government at Harvard, his colleagues appreciated his wit, but they never considered him the life of any party. When Kissinger first took his job under Nixon, he was tense and brusque. Now that he is solidly established as undisputed boss of foreign affairs, he is more relaxed than ever, and he is visibly—some would say ostentatiously—enjoying himself.

Topic No. 1 is the women he escorts on both coasts. His favorite is Nancy Maginnes, a tall, blonde aide to Governor Rockefeller. But there are a host of others, mostly actresses like Jill St. John, Mario Thomas and Samantha Eggar, and little-known starlets whose famous date has made them a lot better known. When he goes to San Clemente, Kissinger often takes time off to drive to Hollywood—a place he never visited before he joined the White House—and enjoy parties at the home of Los Angeles Times Hollywood Columnist Joyce Haber and her TV producer husband Douglas Cramer. "I go out with actresses," he says, "because I'm not very apt to marry one." Once he even confided: "It's astonishing, you know. These starlets I go out with aren't even sexy." In a burst of envious outrage, Manhattan's Village Voice accused Kissinger of being a secret square posing as a swinger.

But he is clearly comfortable ir his new role. Ever since he wrote his Ph.D. thesis on Metternich, he has admired statesmen who combined a cul tivated life-style with the shrewd exercise of diplomacy. Kissinger is trying to revive some of the bygone elegance of public life; grimness is for the ideologues and zealots who haven't made the world such a troubled place to live in.

He has personal knowledge of 20th century grimness. As a Jewish boy in Nazi Germany, he knew persecution. After his family fled to New York in 1938, he kept to himself. Today a streak of suspicion seems to underlie all that he does. His jokes about his paranoia have an uncomfortable edge of truth; his genuinely humorous self deprecation often gets out of hand. Ht admits he has a problem. "I have a first rate mind but a third-rate intuition about people."

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