Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) has proposed that Congress intermingle during the president’s State of the Union address as a sign of unity following the shootings in Tucson.
Instead of sitting in our usual partisan divide, let us agree to have Democrats and Republicans sitting side by side. The choreographed standing and clapping of one side of the room — while the other side sits — is unbecoming of a serious institution.
While the idea sounds good, it’s no more than a circus act to protect a chief executive whose popularity is skidding.
There is no assigned seating during the State of the Union. Members send their aides into the House chamber early to stake out “good” seats, usually along the aisle. A staple of this trick is media
whor hound Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) who always manages a seat along the aisle and gets herself on television glad-handing the president – no matter the party to which he belongs – as he makes his way into and from the House floor. I guaran-damn-tee she won’t give up her prime bit of real estate.
With more Republicans (54%) than Democrats/Independents for the first time in the Obama administration, it would be visually unappealing to have fewer people standing and applauding the president than in previous full session gatherings. And, it would be far more awkward for Republicans to remain seated when others immediately beside or around them are standing, making it appear that the president was getting more “support” than was true.
After the beating (oops, is anyone incited to violence by that word?) the Democrats took in last year’s election and anticipating an even more serious one next year, any little stunt to make them look, well, less of a pariah party will be staged.
Now, Republicans are in the difficult position of appearing to maintain the “usual partisan divide” by deferring to traditional seating, or acquiescing to a Democrat parlor trick and create an illusion of bi-partisan support for Barack Obama.
If Democrats want to engage in magic acts, start with sawing the budget in half or pulling jobs out of a hat. Until then, cut the hocus pocus and enjoy the show.