~~~~At the State of the Union address, on January 25th, instead of sitting in our usual partisan divide, let us agree to have Democrats and Republicans sitting side by side throughout the chamber. Beyond custom, there is no rule or reason that on this night we should emphasize divided government, separated by party, instead of being seen united as a country. The choreographed standing and clapping of one side of the room – while the other side sits – is unbecoming of a serious institution. And the message that it sends is that even on a night when the President is addressing the entire nation, we in Congress cannot sit as one, but must be divided as two.
On the night of the State of the Union address, we are asking others to join us – House and Senate members from both parties – to cross the aisle and sit together. We hope that as the nation watches, Democrats and Republicans will reflect the interspersed character of America itself. Perhaps by sitting with each other for one night we will begin to rekindle that common spark that brought us here from 50 different states and widely diverging backgrounds to serve the public good. ~~~~
Some in Congress grabbed at the idea with both hands and started finding "dates" from the other side of the aisle to sit with them for the address.
“I asked one of my best girlfriends to be my date for the night,” Senator Mary L. Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana, said of her choice, Senator Olympia J. Snowe, Republican of Maine. “Of course, we share the Small Business Committee.”
“I had backups in case she said no, like Corker or Isakson,” Ms. Landrieu said, referring to Senators Bob of Tennessee and Johnny of Georgia. “These are really great guys. So, we may do a triple date.”
Others who have paired off include Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, and John Thune, Republican of South Dakota, generally considered two of the more well-coiffed and attractive members of the Senate.
The idea of mixing and mingling was originally advocated by the centrist group Third Way after the Tucson shooting that left Representative Gabrielle Giffords, a moderate Democrat from Arizona, critically wounded and spurred calls for a more civilized political discourse.
The Politico calls it "Atmospherics over policy," but I call it political theater at it's most entertaining. Optics and nothing more.
The fact is Republicans and Democrats have different visions on what is best for the country and what is not.
This, in and of itself, divides them and those divisions are a good thing. Those divisions will stop one side from jamming their political agenda down America's throat as we have seen Congress do for the last two years. With the House of Representatives now controlled by Republicans and the Senate still controlled by Democrats, both parties will be forced to find common ground in order to get anything done.
The seating arrangements at the SOTU address will not push them to work together, the midterm elections already did that assuring both sides of the political aisle would have to negotiate, compromise and yes, fight hard for what they believe in before anything gets accomplished. That is how our Congress is supposed to work.
Barack Obama will stand and give a speech with his view on what has happened this last year and his vision on what would is to come in the next year but the main focus has become who will sit with who before everyone gets back to work on their separate sides of the political aisle, each fighting for what they believe is right and against what they believe is wrong.
As for the speech itself, The Hill gives us a preview of the theme song to which Congress will play their musical chairs to. We will call the song, the "Obama Spin".
In a message to supporters on Saturday, Obama gave a bit of a preview of the remarks Congress can expect at the State of the Union.
"An economy that was shrinking is now growing again," Obama said in the video. "We've created more than a million jobs over the last year. The stock market is back up and corporate profits are healthy again. So we've made progress, but as all of you know, from talking to friends and neighbors, seeing what's happening in your communicates, we've got a lot more work to do."
Musical chairs played to the Obama Spin. Sounds like date night from hell.