One of two new books on political consultants--and the lesser of an undistinguished pair. Chagall writes flatly that, today, ""appearance is reality"": the candidate with ""the most positive image""--thanks to his or her consultants--wins the election. But that patent distortion/exaggeration/oversimplification is merely indicative of the ignorance and incomprehension here. First, Chagall glorifies Joe Napolitan, Humphrey's big-wheel consultant in the '68 presidential race, who is seen to speak ""with characteristic modesty"" and to perform ""brilliantly"" (he is also pictured holding ""back a sigh"" in a '68 conversation with Larry O'Brien, and lying in bed on election night, ""staring wide-eyed at the ceiling""). Then, for no more ascertainable reasons, Chagall excoriates Gerald Rafshoon and the other Carter ""disciples"": like members of religious cults, ""they are dizzy in his presence, weak in the knees. They see a light around the avatar or messenger."" Also: ""Carter's ignorance of American history, law, and social movements""--by comparison with Presidents Johnson and Nixon--""wasn't really important"" to them; ""what really counted were his good intentions."" Most of the rest of the book is a treatment, in this grotesque light, of the 1980 election--altogether inferior, it hardly need be said, to Germond and Witcover's in Blue Smoke and Mirrors (p. 849) or Elizabeth Drew's in Portrait of an Election (p. 1124). As for the vaunted ""kingmakers,"" their activities are at least described informatively in Larry J. Sabato's The Rise of Political Consultants (below); and they themselves are at least profiled with some savvy in Sidney Blumenthal's The Permanent Campaign (1980).