In 1789, Daniel Webster appointed one Grafton Dulany Hanson as a page, making the 9-year-old the first page in the history of the Senate. The fact that young Hanson was a direct descendant of John Hanson, president of the Continental Congress, apparently didn't hurt his chances for the job. Moral of the story: If you want a summer job on the Hill, it helps to know somebody.
Some of the pages and interns who attended a reception yesterday afternoon at the home of General Motors heir Stewart R. Mott will tell you the same thing.
Ask Jeff Pasley, a 17-year-old high school student working as a page for Rep. Jim Jeffries (R-Kan.) this summer. "I like to think I got the job because of my dedication," said Pasley, "but my government teacher at school plays bridge with Mrs. Jeffries. Frankly, from taking to other people, I gather you have to have an 'in'".
Jim Oliver, who worked as a page for Melvin Laird 14 years ago and who is now the Republican Party chief page, frowned at Pasley's observation.
Munching on tuna puffs, choclate chip cookies, raw vegetables and dip, the newcomers to Washington mingled with Reps. Lindy Boggs (D-La.), Robert McClory (R-Ill.) and John Myers (R-Ind.). The reception was the first of numerous summer activities run by the Webster Society, a group designed to help interns and pages adjust to Washington life.
Not all the interns have taken to Washington, however.
Andrea Berger, now an intern for the Justice Department after having finished her first year of law school at Fordham in New Yrok, was not impressed by her introduction to the Washington social scene.
"The job is fine, but I'm so homesick for New York, I can hardly stand it," said Berger. "You can't get decent, cheap Chinese food in this town."
Lois Perelson, an intern in the office of Sen. Daniel P. Moynihan (D-N.Y.), was more enthusiastic. "We collate, we stuff, everything. What we're doing in the office isn't terribly exciting, but the atmosphere is. You feel like you are a witness to everything."
Even after and exuberant welcome and pep talk from Webster Society President George Douth ("God bless you all "), cooler heads prevailed.
Many interns said they will probably gain at least as much as their employers from the experience. One employer, Rep. McClory, agreed that it goes both ways. "Well-directed, they are a help," he said, "but they can be a liability to you if they spend too much time asking questions or airing their own political views."