Nation to heal by having congressmen from different parties sit next to each other at SOTU or something

posted at 6:43 pm on January 14, 2011 by Allahpundit

Lisa Murkowski’s a big fan of the idea, so hey — how bad it could be?

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaksa) has joined Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) in spearheading Udall’s effort to have bipartisan seating at the State of the Union, Murkowski’s office announced Friday.

In a letter to members of Congress today Murkowski and Udall propose Republicans and Democrats sit together during the State of the Union address. Currently, the tradition is for Democrats and Republicans to sit only with members of their party during the presidential address. The proposal comes after an earlier one by Udall where the Democrat and Republican leadership would sit together during the presidential address…

“On the night of the State of the Union address, House and Senate members from both parties outhgt to cross the aislie and sit together,” the senators write. “As the nation watches, Democrats and Republicans should 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.”

Follow the link above for a list of 21 senators and nine congressmen who have already endorsed the idea. The Republicans onboard thus far are Murky, McCain, Kelly Ayotte, the Maine sisters, and House GOP whip Kevin McCarthy. If you’re inclined to oppose this, you’ve got plenty of arrows in your rhetorical quiver. For starters, practically the only fun part of the SOTU is watching the two sides of the chamber applaud or not applaud in response to the president’s speech to show where they stand on what he’s saying. If the seating is mix-and-match, you lose that. Second, as Daniel Halper notes, the parties don’t sit apart because they can’t stand each other’s company, they do it because they have heartfelt differences on policy. No sense in obscuring that fact when those differences are bound to reemerge, occasionally in a heated way, sooner rather than later. And third, by making an ostentatious show of civility after the shootings, you’re arguably validating the narrative that a lack of civility was some sort of contributing factor to them. I think that’s less of a concern after The One’s speech, which provided some cover to separate the issue of “tone” from the fact of the murders, but it’s there if you want to see it.

And yet, and yet, I can’t get worked up about any of this, just because the gesture’s so … innocuously lame. Does anyone think having Republicans sit next to Democrats for an hour will do anything, even in a minute way, to “improve the discourse”? There are plenty of other lame gestures you could make off-camera that really might increase the degree of civility, however negligibly: More inter-caucus luncheons, say, or more joint townhalls or media appearances between congressmen of different parties. To sit together for an hour, though, and expect it to change anything? Seriously? Okay, sure, why not? Whatevs.

Here’s Udall touting the idea to MSNBC yesterday. Exit question: Does he realize that party members have always been free to sit wherever they like at the SOTU? Click the image to watch.


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I can’t see the harm, frankly. It’s like reading the Constitution.

Let’s shake up the routine. You have to change all kinds of things to really change routine.

This is silly, but it’s OK to do.

AnninCA on January 16, 2011 at 10:45 AM

More fun to watch a dim wildly jumpin’ up and down while others sit.
Republicans just sit in silence no action at all.
Most of the Supreme’s NOT in the room.
Rebuttal by SP as a paid infomercial.
Heads POP!

Col.John Wm. Reed on January 16, 2011 at 11:31 AM

Does anyone think having Republicans sit next to Democrats for an hour will do anything, even in a minute way, to “improve the discourse”?

It’s just a stunt, a lame stunt.

Someone needs to tell these people to… grow up.

petefrt on January 16, 2011 at 12:43 PM

This furthers the “heated rhetoric kills” meme, and Republicans who go along with it are just giving it legs.

Akzed on January 16, 2011 at 3:21 PM

Oh please, do your jobs and go play your touchy-feely games some place else . . . enough of this immature crap.

rplat on January 16, 2011 at 5:17 PM

Instead of sitting together, join together and put an end to abortion, eliminate the death panels, repeal ObamaCare, lower our tax rates, save our economy and strengthen our military don’t weaken it!

Theater. Everything is theater. Everything accept what the Democrats and Obama do to us. That is very real! The seizures, the confiscatory taxes, the regulations, the Czars… there’s nothing theatrical about that! What.. do Republicans think we’re all so stupid as to go gaga over them sitting together and yet forget their hands around our necks?

Tell me, how can an unborn child compromise with the abortionist’s saline injection? How can an elderly person on life support come to a compromise with the Obama death panel that wants to pull her plug? How can a small businessman compromise with a confiscatory tax implemented to punish it, to put it out of business?

Spare us your grade school theater! It’s insulting!

JellyToast on January 16, 2011 at 5:56 PM

lol. TO hide their shrinking numbers.

johnnyU on January 16, 2011 at 6:16 PM

Obama could create an atmosphere of healing by not being a partisan @sshat this year.

Amen. Perhaps this could be the year we see the end of pandering for praise with applause lines.

MayBee on January 14, 2011 at 7:45 PM

Once an @sshat always an @sshat. i.e. Øbama and the next biggest one, Schumer.

Dasher on January 16, 2011 at 6:38 PM

how can an unborn child compromise with the abortionist’s saline injection?

Way to go Jelly Toast

Don L on January 16, 2011 at 7:49 PM

Let’s face it, every time Lisa Murkowski and Gringo McCain sits with the Republicans, they already are sitting with the “other” side.

Don L on January 16, 2011 at 7:54 PM

And yet, and yet, I can’t get worked up about any of this, just because the gesture’s so … innocuously lame. Does anyone think having Republicans sit next to Democrats for an hour will do anything, even in a minute way, to “improve the discourse”?

Not, but it will create an image of Obama as the great national uniter, this is a great stunt for Obama and the Republicans are playing right into his hands. I have no doubt the Republicans will hand Obama a second term with many stupid rollovers like this.

neuquenguy on January 16, 2011 at 10:36 PM

If the Repugnantcans go for this and negate their numbers advantage effectively negating the Tea Partiers who put the majority in office they might just as well link hands and join Barney and friends for a circle jerk afterwards!

Hey Dumbass Repugnancans Party at Barneys house and Shep Smith is gonna be there.

dhunter on January 16, 2011 at 10:54 PM

They’ve been warned more than once about “crossing the aisle”.

Still not getting the message?

docjohn52 on January 17, 2011 at 11:10 AM

Why are the Republicans always so willing to be played by these clowns.
1)They have never suggested this in all the time they had the Majority,why now?
2)Look at the republicans that are first in line,Murkowski,Collins,Snowe,McCain all rinos.

The reason they want this is so dear leader won’t look like the loser he is when only a hundred so stand and cheer him and 200 plus don’t so obvious I hope they don’t fall for it.

concernedsenior on January 17, 2011 at 12:00 PM

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.”

Then after the “happy hour” is over we’re back playing offense, right?

ProudPalinFan on January 17, 2011 at 12:13 PM

Let McCain, the Maine sisters, and Murkowski sit with the Democrats, and let any Blue Dog Democrats sit with the Republicans (if there are any left). Maybe it will put things in sharp contrast for their constituents.

Kevin71 on January 17, 2011 at 1:13 PM

I get the feeling that this has an ulterior motive and is not being done out of Democratic kindness. I also get the feeling that the Democrats want to watch/keep notes or contain Republicans. Or they want to ensure that the Republicans don’t act like they did at the last SOTU. I know that I may sound paranoid, but everything in Washington is calculated and intended to score political points or to limit their opposition.

SGinNC on January 19, 2011 at 10:04 AM

Comment pages: 1 2 3