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 speeckes 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. Henrt Allen
"Please don't ask me what it's like to be the only woman in the Senate," said Republican Nancy Landon Kassebaum, obviosuly not for the first time. "I don't know yet. Maybe in a month or two I will know."
Her first day in the United States Senate (where she is the only woman and the first woman over elected to a full term who was not the widow of a former incumbent) shaped up largely as a series of new faces to remember, new hands to shake -- not so different from the campaign that she won by an impressive 85,000 votes.
She stood in the office of her colleague, Sen. Robert Dole (R-Kans.), a few feet away from the great seal and state flag of Kansas, both of which carry the same clutter of symbolic, evocative pitures: a sunrise, someone herding cattle, a log cabin, a couple of covered wagons moving west and a farmer plowing a field. The line of well-wishers, stretching back from Dole's large, comfortably furnished office through several anterooms, seemed endless.
Practically none of the crowd (almost all Kansans, with a few lobbyists and a sprinkling of fellow politicians -- Harold Stassen; John Tower) seemed to know the new senator. Most of them introduced themselves, and if they were from Kansas they said which part: "I'm so-and-so from Topeka..." Or Wichita... Or just a compass direction like Southeast Kansas. Most of them called her "senator," but a few, newly introduced, shifted almost immediately to "Nancy" in the friendly, open style of the Great Plains. One or two were wearing bright green "Nancy" buttons, and one had a necklace with "I Love Kansas" stamped out in gold.
The new senator was still in a euphoric state from the swearing-in ceremony ("very dramatic") and dazzled at the thought of those who have been at her desk before her. She was not willing to make grand policy statements yet: "I will take each situation as it comes up."
On women's issues, she said Margaret Chase Smith had advised her (and she agrees) "that it is important to relate the feminist aspect of questions within a larger total scope, not seperate it out." But then as the daughter of that venerable grand old man of the GOP, former presidential candidate Alf Landon, Sen. Kassebaum is not lacking for political advice from her home state either.
The line was long and kept moving steadily. For those with time to linger (or those stalled at the back of the line), Sen. Dole provided cookies and a choice of coffee, RC Cola or Dr Pepper.