FRESHMAN Republican congressman calls his mother from the cloakroom during a pause in the debate on the tax bill:
Hello mother, I'll be home soon. Just one more roll call and I'm on my way. Well, of course I'm coming. I thought it was all arranged, Cindy and the children and I with you and Dad at the lake for a couple of weeks, and then I start campaigning.
Mother, why would I stay at the lake until Thanksgiving? You know it gets awfully cold there, and I have to see my constituents. Why wouldn't they want to see me? How am I voting on the tax bill? Well, Mother, I'm surprised you would ask. I'll be with the president, of course.
But Mother, I can't help it if Teddy Kennedy is, too. I don't care what the neighbors say, I am not in his pocket. He had nothing to do with my decision, which, as I think you know, was extremely difficult for me. Yes, it is true that Kennedy voted against it at a time when I was also opposed. But I changed my mind before he changed his. I wish you wouldn't use the word flip-flop, Mother. I reached my decision two weeks ago, at Camp David, having lunch with President Reagan.
Oh, Mother, what a thrill, it really made it all worthwhile to be here. The helicopters, the food, and the place is beautful. Yes, mother, Jim Baker was there. Mother, he is not a socialist. He is a Methodist. He wasn't pulling any strings on the president. He passed me the mustard, he had nothing in his hands.
No, I didn't get a chance to tell the president how you feel about raising taxes. The president did most of the talking, and I'll tell you a little secret, Mother. He hates the bill as much as you do. It's just that . . .
Now, Mother, be careful. You know what this kind of agitation is not good for you. I know you did't mortgage the house to send me here to raise taxes. But Mother, that is what Ronald Reagan wants, and he is our leader. Yes, I realize it makes it hard for you at your bridge club to explain why Teddy Kennedy and I are on the same side.
Yes, Mother, you did see Tip O'Neill in the Rose Garden, and the president shaking hands with him. Yes, you're right, the president did say that he couldn't stand the thought of two Tip O'Neills. But that was last week. This week , he would have liked three.
Yes, Mother, I know you think one is too much, but I don't think you should be quite so personal about it. Perhaps he could lose a pound or two. I agree with you that he could exercise more, but, Mother, you've got it wrong. The House doesn't have five gymns. That's the Senate, and it isn't five, it's three. It isn't even three now; they cancelled two of them. Well, Mother, I can't help it if you didn't see it in the paper. I do wish you would let me give you a subscription to the Congressional Record for Christmas. It would make these conversations a great deal pleasanter.
Well, Mother, you're probably right. The senators maybe should get rid of the pages and run up and down the aisles themselves. No, mother, it's the House that has the page scandal. I mean, we thought we did, but the FBI says there's nothing to it. Drugs? Well, I personally feel that there is no dope in the House. I've never seen anyone snorting in the cloakroom. Well, some of the older members snort sometimes, but it's not cocaine. It's about the tax bill.
Mother, I haven't had a chance to tell you the great news. The president may come in and campaign for me. Can't you see it -- the motorcade, the high school band, and you and Dad could . . . Mother! What do you mean? You're not telling me that just because 2,000 people were laid off in the factory making parts for the pipeline . . . Mother, you've always said we have to stand up to the Communists. Taiwan? Now, Mother, I know Barry Goldwater is upset about it, and I know how you felt about Madame Chiang Kai- shek.
Mother, I have no way of knowing if Tip O'Neill and Teddy Kennedy are behind it. I have never in my life talked to either one of them. What do you mean, how do I get my orders? That's an awful thing to say. If the president of the Chamber of Commerce says I'm a dupe of the Democratic left, ask him if he thinks the president is, too. Oh, you did.
Yes, the president looked great at Camp David. Why do you ask? Of course I'm sure it was him, Mother. I can't help it if Alice Ward says the real Ronald Reagan has disappeared.
He hasn't changed at all on ERA. Neither have I. But I have to run now. They are calling the roll. I'll see you soon. Won't I, Mother? Won't I? Speak to me, Mother. Oh, Mother . . .