The first story that any feature writer worth his salt has to deal with when a new president is elected will change. As soon as President Carter made his concessiion speech the phone rang at home, and an out-of-town reporter from one of the leading newspapers asked, "How different will Washington be under a Reagan administration?"
I protested, "That's my story."
"It's everybody' story," he said. "Now are you going to level with me or do you want me to tell everyone you had 'No comment'?"
"What do you want to know?"
"Well, what do you believe the new president will do first to change the town?"
"For years we've been promised hitching posts and water toughs for our horses. They were in the original Pennsylvanie Avenue Redevelopment Plan but were taken out because of budget restrictions. I believe Reagan will see that we get them."
"What do you think he'll do about the economy?"
"He'll get rid of those damn sheep farmers so our cattle will have something to graze on. We cattle ranchers are sick and tired of being pushed around by the sheep people."
"How do you see social life changing under a Reagan administration?"
"I think Reagan will be under pressure to close all the bawdy houses in Georgetown. He'll probably shut down the faro and poker parlors, too. The good people in this town are sick and tired of our womenfolk and sons being accosted on the streets by drunken congressmen who don't have no respect for decent law-abiding citizens."
"What about parties?"
"We ain't going to have parties. We're going to have balls. The general store has already ordered a whole new batch of gowns from Chicago for the ladies. The women are as excited as all get-out about the Reagans moving in and are already angling for invitations to their house. There's even talk of them bringing in big-name bands from St. Louis to play for them. I tell you, socially, the Reagans are going to put our town on the map."
How else do you think Reagan's going to change the town?"
"He's going to get rid of all the bad guys. He's going to swear in a bunch of new deputies and clean out all the fat and waste that's been going on around here. Anyone who rides into town wearing a black hat with a welfare plan will be rode out on a rail. You're going to see some pretty good shoot-outs in the next four years."
"So you can see nothing but good coming of the Reagans moving to Washington?"
"You're darn tootin'. In time we might become as important as Tuscon, Ariz. They're even thinking about making our town a stagecoach stop, and the Union Pacific is talking about building a trunk line that will connect us with Omaha. This sleep is going to come alive in the next four years."
"What about Indians?"
"We ain't worried about them. Reagan's appointed Gen. Custer to take care of that problem."