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Packwood quits Senate // Private Packwood: lurid, self-absorbed

The private life of Sen. Bob Packwood was laid bare Thursday _ on page after page of his diaries.

They reveal a lonely, self-involved man who held one of the most powerful jobs in America and yet was preoccupied not with the day's big issues, but with the women who worked for him.

Packwood recorded sexual liaisons in great detail and he claimed in 1993 that during the 23 years he had been a senator that he "made love to" 22 staff members and had "passionate relationships with" 75 other women.

During most of this time he was married.

The 62-year-old senator's words often give the impression of a giddy teenager, talking about getting "smashed" on wine, recounting who was present at staff parties and saying of a new employee, in 1991: "I kind of like her; in fact she rides horses."

The diaries reveal the GOP senator from Oregon as a man who clearly does not see his own contradictions.

Packwood admires the smarts of female staffers and describes himself as a advocate for women. But he describes a new intern as "a cute little button blond thing" and discounts one female aide because she "is happily married and as I've often said, happy housewives don't change the world."

In 1989, he describes a staff party in his office, where he becomes enamored of a young woman whom he decides "is a sexy thing. Bright eyes and hair and that ability to shift her hips."

Gradually other people leave the senator's private office and he and the young woman dance, beside his "gigantic desk," with "a romantic song of some kind" playing, "but I knew and she knew what we were both thinking."

The young woman "and I made love, and she has the most stunning figure _ big breasts."

As he and the staffer lay nude on the carpet in his office, he offers this scene:

"You have no idea the hold you have over people," the woman tells him.

"What is it?" he asks.

"Well, I think it's your hair _ the way (another woman) combs it."

They both laugh, according to his diary, and finally the staffer concludes:

"There's simply an attraction. I don't know what the other word is."

The senator remembers that after another glass of wine, the duo danced again, and laid again on the floor. "I rather enjoyed it in the sense that it wasn't wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am," he concludes.

The women he is so enthralled with, Packwood suggests, help him have faith in himself.

The senator found his confidence in other places as well.

In March 1992, Packwood thrills about his thinning gray hair, which he had just blown dry.

"I didn't use any jell on it at all. I just blew it until it was about dry, combed it, and if it didn't come out looking just right. It had just the right amount of bounce to it, and wave to it. I came back rather confident. I now think we can beat (a political opponent)."

In the diaries _ just one part in 10,145 pages of investigative documents released Thursday by the Senate Ethics Committee _ Packwood is often rambling in his thoughts. He mentions drinking wine constantly. He quotes a string of aides, but many names are deleted.

In another insight into Packwood's sense of the world, he praises a staffer for handling "all the things I don't like. All the social welfare stuff, the education, the handicapped, the blind, all those things I have so little patience for and all those programs that I think probably are a waste of money."

On March 29, 1993, he told of just getting word of the motion to subpoena his personal papers.

"I wonder if that includes diaries," he said. "Everything. I was scared to death. . . . There is some damaging stuff. Actually," he added, "least of all damaging is probably the diaries, because in it there would be nothing about being a rejected suitor, only my successful exploits."

The transcripts are full of long blank spaces, where it appears whole recollections were deleted. It was unclear whether this was connected to ethics charges that Packwood altered his diaries after they were subpoenaed.

But the most vivid scenes describe his sexual escapades.

At one dinner with a staffer, Packwood recalled, the woman told Packwood she caught her boyfriend in bed with another woman. But Packwood had not known the woman had a boyfriend. "You and I have made love six or seven times," he tells her.

"At the most," she answers.

"Well, six or seven times, and you were telling me you maybe made love once a year. I was feeling sorry for you and thinking I was doing my Christian duty by making love to you. Rather enjoyable," I said, "but my Christian duty, and it turns out you're banging this guy three times a week for seven years."

Less than two years ago, Packwood told his diary that a clergyman considered him to be unrepentant.

"He said, "I don't sense any repentance,' " Packwood told the diary.

"I said, ". . . what did I do wrong?' And I said if there's any error, it's that I misjudged these women, and he hit the roof. He said, "Packwood, the copout of everybody who doesn't believe they did wrong is to say they misjudged.' "

"I said, "that may be true, but when those of us say it, we don't mean it as a copout. We don't think we did wrong.' "