Everything was possible, yesterday.
The most famous was none of them -- all being outgloried by a movie-star wife.
One had been a professional basketball player, but that stopped counting for much as soon as the winning vote was cast.
One was youth, at 26.
One was a very gray freshman at 68.
All were winners, even -- or especially -- the daughter of Alf Landon, whom the country forgot about in hordes in 1936.
There were 77 new members in the House, 20 in the Senate of the 96th Congress, and yesterday was the day they got to eat the bacon they'd brought home on election day. They toasted themselves in benisons of song from a black quintet; in Dr. Pepper, in cheers raised with the last victory speeches of a long, long year now over.
All, of course, will spend less, tax lighter and sweep harder, as new brooms should do, and at the great susurrus of receptions all over the Hill, most still believed it -- except, of course, for the Old and Great Ones who glided in to offer welcomes, and remember the day in their own lives when everything was possible. Henry Allen
Sen. John W. Warner's (R-Va.) party was scheduled to begin at 4 p.m.; by quarter of, there were already about 50 people in the committee room. By 4:20 it was jammed and people were spilling out into the hall.
When Warner arrived, to thunderous cheers, he jumped up on the judiciary committee table and shouted "Everybody enjoy themselves!" Then he said "Somebody -- as usual -- is making a uh, uh stop... she'll be right here."
"Somebody" of course was Elizabeth Taylor Warner, who arrived and was helped up onto the table by Warner and Virginia's other senator, Harry F. Byrd Jr., an independent.
Earlier, Mrs. Warner sat in the gallery to watch her husband being sworn in, surrounded by a party that included two of Warner's children, his mother, her mother, and two maids from their Georgetown house.
For the experienced Virginia political wokers who made up most of the crowd, the event was reminiscent of many exuberant Warner campaign appearances. Clearly in an ecstatic mood, Warner at one point "opened the floor" to anyone who wanted to say anything, and tried to get them all to sing "Carry Me Back to Old Virginny," for which a Massachusetts woman who had come for liberal Democrat Paul Tsongas' reception led the singing.
She wasn't the only non-Virginian there. A hefty chunk of the crowd was from New Jersey, having strayed downstairs from Democrat Bill Bradley's party. Why were they there? "Why do you think? Why do you think anyone is here?" said on woman, eyeing Liz.
Warner, in true Virginia style, harkened to the past in his opening remarks after introducing Byrd.
"How well I remember as a small boy sitting in the orchards of Berryville listening to a U.S. senator (Byrd's father, Harry F. Byrd), discuss the fiscal irresponsibility in America," Warner said. "He said each page represented $70,000. It took two men to lift the budget books into the back of the apple truck, remember Harry?"
"No, I was too young," rejoindered Byrd, to the delight of the crowd.
Next Warner spotted Sen. S.I. Hayakawa (R-Calif.) in the crowd. "Sam, come on up here," said Warner. "If you think we don't have color in the Senate, here it is..." Warner said in an aside to the crowd. "Sen. Hayakawa said he always wanted a date with Liz, and now he's got it," Warner said as Liz gave Hayakawa a kiss.
"I yield the floor to the distinguished senator from Hawaii," Warner announced as Hayakawa leaned over for his kiss.
"California, California!" yelled several people in the crowd.
"I, uh, like to tease him about Hawaii," Warner explained. "That's where I met him..."
Hayakawa responded saying, "I believe West Virginia is one of the great states in the union," and shortly thereafter the whole thing turned into a cheering session as visitors from different states demanded their share of the spotlight.Warner allowed as how his last Navy assignment was, "interestingly," in New Jersey.
Then they all sang "Carry Me Back to Old Virginny," although Warner, Byrd and Liz clearly knew few of the words.
The New Jerseyites were busily engaged in taking snapshots of Mrs. Warner, in some cases vehemently elbowing their more polite Virginia neighbors out of the way. "When will we see you in the White House?" yelled someone from the crowd. Warner laughed and his wife just shook her head and said "No, no, no, no."