There were a lot of rumors that President Carter did some old-fashioned arm twisting to get enough votes for the first part of the Panama Canal treaty vote in the Senate.
This was strongly denied, not only by the White House, but by Senators who showed up the next day with their arms in slings.
Sen. Chisholm Chippendale told me he didn't think anyone in the Carter administration leaned on him to vote for the treaty.
"I did get a call from Rosalynn," he admitted, "a week before but she just wanted to know hou my wife was."
"That was thoughtful of her," I said.
"Actually it was kind of strange," Chippendale said, "because I'm not married."
"They're weak on research at the White House," I said. "Anything else out of the ordinary happen last week?"
"Well, I don't know if it is worth mentioning, but Ham Jordan came out to the house on Monday and offered to cut my lawn. I told him because of the winter it didn't seem worth cutting, so he said he'd mulch it for me."
"All by himself?"
"No, Jody Powell came out about noon and helped him. I thought that was real nice of those two boys, what with all they've got to do."
"Ham likes to mulch lawns," I told him. "Then what happened?"
"Well, I was working in my office on Tuesday and a box with a note in this girl's handwriting arrived from the White House. It was full of chocolate-chip cookies and the note said, I couldn't think of anyone I'd rather make chocolate-chip cookies for than you. At the end of the letter she said, "I love you, and it was really sweet."
"Weren't you suspicious of all the attention you were getting from the Carter people?"
"Heck no. I just thought they were being right friendly."
"But I read somewhere they never answered your telephone calls in the past."
"That's true, but I called on Tuesday afternoon to find out what day we were going to celebrate the Fourth of July this year, and guess who they put me through to?"
"Nope, Vice President Fritz Mondale. I was embarrassed to aks someone of his stature such a simple question, but he just laughed and said, That's what I'm here for'."
"You really had a great week."
"That's not the end of it. Trade Ambassador Bob Strauss stopped by to see me that evening and invited me to go to Japan with him to walk to Japanese bankers about the yen. I'm not big on the yen, so he said I could visit a geisha house while he talked to the bankers. Heck, I never guessed Bob Strauss knew I was alive. But the best thing to happen to me was I got invited to have breakfast with the president on Thrusday morning - just him and me."
"Wow! That mus have been a thrill."
"Let me tell you it was. We had scrambled eggs, toast and coffee. Every other senator I've talked to who has had breakfast with Mr. Carter says, he only gives them coffee and, if they're lucky, a piece of Danish. A full breakfast with President Carter is the equivalent of a state dinner as far as my colleagues on the Hill are concerned."
"So you voted for the treaty?"
"Will you vote for the second part of it next month?'
"I haven't made up my mind. You see the senators who announced early that they would vote 'yes' didn't get a thing for their support, not even a piece of Danish pastry. But those of us who held out until the last moment not only wound up with scrambled eggs, but anything we wanted as well. For example, I got a new naval base for my state, and we're not even on the water."