Holding Hands and the State of the Union

Well, I’m heading Inside the Beltway for a few days this week. In fact, I’ll be there Tuesday when Prez O gives his  State of the Union remarks. Full discloser: I haven’t been invited to attend as yet. But if I do, will I have to come up with a date?

Seems that’s the big issue playing out on Capitol Hill right now. Apparently the seating assignments for the big event are going to resemble an eighth-grade dance: find a friend to sit by, gently hold hands, and be cautious and politically correct to an extreme. And if that helps move the civility ball forward — even symbolically — then I’m OK with it. Would like to think we could do better. But, hey, maybe it’s a start.

Saying that, is Joe Wilson — he of “You Lie” fame — still in Congress? If so, I wonder who draws the short straw and has to sit next to him. I digress.

Anyway, here’s the skinny from the NYT article “As State of the Union Nears, Congress Plays Musical Chairs.”

Mary from Louisiana asked Olympia from Maine because they are BFFs, but had a backup in Bob from Tennessee in case she was rebuffed. Kirsten from New York went the Sadie Hawkins route and asked John from South Dakota, and thus the deal between two members of the Senate with seriously good hair was sealed.


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.

And more:

Since mere moments after the idea was broached, lawmakers have also found themselves under steady questioning from the news media — local and national — demanding to know just whom they plan to sit with. It has made for some pressure, perhaps even some sweaty palms, in finding an available partner.

“Steny Hoyer and I try to talk quite often,” Representative Kevin McCarthy ofCalifornia, the No. 3 House Republican, told reporters, making his availability quite clear. “I would enjoy sitting next to him.”

Of course, no symbolic act in Congress — or elsewhere — goes without some scrutiny. Again, from the NYT article:

Not everyone, though, is feeling the vibe.

“I already believe very firmly that it is a trap and a ruse that Democrats are proposing,” Representative Paul Broun, a conservative Republican from Georgia, said in a radio interview. Other Republicans have also scoffed at the idea as childish and irrelevant, calling it an effort to muzzle Republicans and prevent them from expressing reservations about Mr. Obama’s speech.

Asked whom the Republican Senate leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, would sit with, his spokesman, Don Stewart, said, “Whoever sits next to him.”

OK. So there is no confusion, here’s where I stand on all this.

If Kirsten Gillibrand calls and invites me to be her date, I’m down with that.

But with my luck it will be Steny Hoyer.


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