January 20, 2011

What's so bad about shuffling Republicans and Democrats together for the State of the Union Address?

The Washington Times hates the idea:
A letter to congressional leaders signed by proponents of this exercise in musical chairs claims...
Musical chairs? Clearly, the Washington Times has never played musical chairs. Musical chairs would be quite funny: Make the Congresspeople scramble for what are too few chairs, and kick out everyone who can't find a seat. Where's your kinder, gentler more civil politics then?
... "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." [Senator Mark] Udall is clearly focused on the wrong problem. Presumably orgiastic clapping, not sitting stonefaced, is what offends the seriousness of the august institution.
I don't know much about the Washington Times's sex life, but I think it's got orgasms wrong too. I'll bet, if you did a scientific study, you'd find that, during orgasm, remaining stonefaced is much more common than applause. But I do agree that it would offend the seriousness of the august institution if the President's admirers really acted like they were having orgasms.



Shifting the seats around will not alter the president's applause lines. Democrats, wherever placed in the chamber, will still faithfully rise and clap at the appointed times. If such demonstrations are what Mr. Udall believes are "unbecoming" to the Congress, then Democrats should instruct their members to refrain from such demonstrations, similar to how the NFL has tried to promote civility by cracking down on post-touchdown celebrations.
I think the Democrats should instruct their members to show a little more NFL-style enthusiasm:



If clapping isn't banned, the primary effect of the seating change would be to distribute standing ovations across the chamber, making it appear that the president enjoys more congressional support than he does in fact.
That's the theory that's going around, but I'd like to see how it really would look. When the cameras can't zero in on a clump of idolators and must show the President's friends next to his enemies skeptics, we will see exactly what is going on: We've got a partisan Congress. There are a lot more Republicans than Democrats these days: The disproportion may be more likely to look obvious if they are all mixed up. And the juxtaposition of fans and sourpusses will be more amusing in close-up shots.

I say mix it up!

103 comments:

Bob Ellison said...

"I'll bet, if you did a scientific study, you'd find that, during orgasm, remaining stonefaced is much more common than applause."

Greatest straight line ever to grace althouse.blogspot.com.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

The Democrats only want to do this because they are outnumbered.

They figure if it is mixed up, perhaps no one will notice that they are now in the minority.

When they stand and sit as a cohesive group, it is plain that the Dems are in the minority and they are trying to hide this visible fact from the public.

Personally, I think they should all politely sit, listen to the President, sit on their hands and shut the hell up until the end of the address and applaud.... or not.

vw: cowlike. I don't know what to think about that!

Paul Zrimsek said...

If I suggest festival seating like at a Who concert, will I get accused of eliminationism?

Henry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Henry said...

I think the State of the Union should be given in a football stadium with the 535 senators and representatives, plus the other hundred or so dignitaries evenly distributed among the 60,000 empty seats.

And it should rain.

rdkraus said...

Will the Supreme Court Justices be there?

Where will they sit?

Why should they be all alone if everyone else gets to mingle?

Will there be chips, dip and drinks?

Ann Althouse said...

@Dust Bunny Queen You're stating the conventional theory, which is what the Washington Times asserts. I've heard that a lot, and my post is intended to challenge that theory. The question is what will it *really* look like on TV.

Lincolntf said...

WTF is the obsession with doing something, anything, for the first time?
Playing musical chairs in the Capitol is not historic, it's not significant, it's not anything but a childish gesture by childish people. Congress wants people to behave more civilly? Then they should stop yanking our chains with bullshit audience participation routines and get their asses to work undoing whatever it is they've been doing up until now.

MadisonMan said...

What a waste of time for Congresscritters to talk about.

Why not have them sit next to people they want to sit next to? Assigned seating is so 3rd grade.

Scott M said...

I'll bet, if you did a scientific study, you'd find that, during orgasm, remaining stonefaced is much more common than applause.

MEADE...WTF ARE YOU DOING WRONG?!?!

(lol)

Just remember to have a safety word like banana...

On the topic at hand, it's a ridiculous notion that smacks of a waste of time. Am I against mixing them together? Yes, but only because it will do nothing to reach the aims set forth by the congress critter that proposed it.

Much like just about everything congress critters of late have wanted to do.

Clapping should never be banned.

The Crack Emcee said...

What's so bad about shuffling Republicans and Democrats together for the State of the Union Address?

The Democrats have cooties?

NotYourTypicalNewYorker said...

Symbolism over substance. The left trying to minimize the shellacking they were handed in Nov.

Can't we all just sit together? (smiley fluttering batting of eyes)

NO!

Original Mike said...

"it's not anything but a childish gesture by childish people. Congress wants people to behave more civilly? Then they should stop yanking our chains with bullshit audience participation routines and get their asses to work"

Sing it, brother!

ricpic said...

Am I the only one discomforted by Meg Ryan's fake orgasm?

1jpb said...

Cons, don't be sourpusses.

Original Mike said...

Who has to sit next to Rep. Cohen?

Roger J. said...

My solution: go back to the original state of the union approach: Mr Obama sends a letter and no one has to waste their time on the kabuki dance that has become "THE STATE OF THE UNION."

Scott M said...

They figure if it is mixed up, perhaps no one will notice that they are now in the minority.

Awesome, mind-bending clarity right there. Well done.

Original Mike said...

At least no one has to sit next to Alan Grayson. He's moved on to doing interviews on the Ed Schultz show re: the incivility of Republicans.

1jpb said...

"Who has to sit next to Rep. Cohen?"

Good thing Larry Craig is gone, he'd be hogging (Titus bait?) all the leg space.

Michael said...

As to musical chairs, I think there will be a few extra seats in the Supreme Court section.

Juba Doobai! said...

I'm against it. When the Dems had power, they kicked dust in the GOP's face. Now they want to mix it up so people won't see how outnumbered they are. Enough of that Charlie Brown nonsense. I don't want the GOP compromising with the Dems on anything, not even this.

Scott M said...

Am I the only one discomforted by Meg Ryan's fake orgasm?

Probably. Almost definitely, in fact.

Ron said...

Q: How do you know if a Jewish American Princess is having an orgasm?

A: She puts down her book.

Ron said...

They may shuffle as much as they like....we get to cut!

Henry said...

1jpb wrote: "Good thing Larry Craig is gone, he'd be hogging (Titus bait?) all the leg space."

This is actually really pertinent. According to Wikipedia, the wide stance is out:

Though there is a rumor that many members of Congress are unable to be present in the chamber because while there are 435 members of the United States House of Representatives and 100 members of the United States Senate, the maximum capacity of the House chamber is about 448 seats, this is not the case. According to the Architect of the Capitol, for the State of the Union address, the normal seats are removed and replaced with much smaller seats in order to accommodate seating members of the House and Senate, the Cabinet, the Supreme Court, the Joint Chiefs, and other dignitaries.

SteveR said...

Amazing how civility and compromise are "in" now days.

Original Mike said...

Surely Jerry Nadler gets two seats.

Chip Ahoy said...

I hate the idea too.

I'd rather see the senators clap the back of their hands like trained seals and go, "ARF! ARF! ARF!"

Scott M said...

Just once, I would like to see someone throw an oversized beach ball into the crowd and have them keep it up in the air during the speech. If it touches the floor, everyone has to go home.

Amartel said...

What's so bad about putting Republicans and Democrats together for the SOTU address? Because it's window dressing, a talking point, a jumping off point to talk about the new phony civility. It's unserious, inside-Washington bullshit. Nobody really cares except pundits and pols, and, honestly, those people don't really care either.

Original Mike said...

Can we get a pool going as to what time into the speech Boehner pulls out his hankie?

rhhardin said...

Orgiastic is grapes.

LakeLevel said...

To the TV cameras it will look like the entire chamber is giving the O a standing O even if the Republicans stay seated. I say stay separated so we can see that not everyone agrees with the nasty partisan rhetoric that nearly always is part of Obama's speeches.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I would like to see someone throw an oversized beach ball into the crowd and have them keep it up in the air during the speech. If it touches the floor, everyone has to go home.


How about, Obama crowd surfs and when he gets to a patch of Republicans or says something that they disagree with....they drop him on the floor?

Original Mike said...

Perhaps, in the spirit of civility, the standing representatives can help their formerly "across the aisle" colleagues stand up before they themselves sit down.

Quayle said...

If I were John Boehner, I swear I'd sit and obviously do a crossword puzzle during the entire speech.

Oh how the words "disrespectful" and "undignified" would fly.

Its all phony theater, but the media is invested in covering it as serious, so you can't come right out and say its phony, don't-cha-know.

Lincolntf said...

If Barack Obama was still in the Senate, does anyone think he'd go sit across the aisle? Anyone? Anyone?

PaulV said...

Will media types lie when Cantor takes notes and say he was doing something else? Civility please. WV: blerd. I am getting blerd during SOTU

Hoosier Daddy said...

Congress was already shuffled in November and the Democrats just don't like how they were dealt.

Coketown said...

Ann, I think you got "orgiastic" and "orgasmic" confused. I can't decide which is worse. Imagine our three branches of government engaged in a frantic orgy on the floor--all while remaining stonefaced. It'll be like Singaporean parliamentary recess in the pleasure dungeons.

Let's hope they yield to strict textualism when arranging themselves for the State of the Union orgy, with proper checks, balances, and separations of power. If I have to see McConnell and Pelosi engaged in a Cincinnati Steamer, I'll puke.

lemondog said...

"What's so bad about shuffling Republicans and Democrats together for the State of the Union Address?"

BO.

BYOC (Bring your own chair)

But I'd like to see the Dems lock out the Repubs and substitute one-on-one cardboard cutouts that each Dem would manipulate to stand when they stand and applaud.

Effective, no?

Jon said...

Calls for "Civility"= Dems are losing, so they and the crooked refs (media) are calling for a time out.

Original Mike said...

This could arrange themselves by height. Presumably, that would mix them up sufficiently.

Beldar said...

I love that clip of Meg Ryan. The amazing thing about it is that the whole fake orgasm takes less than one minute, from arousal to afterglow.

wv: barenop

Lou Brothers said...

Which NFL celebration should the congressmen perform? The Dirty Bird? The Icky Shuffle? Pulling a cell phone out of the goalpost (podium) and calling their mom? This would be awesome.

Don said...

or·gi·as·tic (ôrj-stk)
adj.
1. Of, relating to, or characteristic of an orgy.
2. Arousing or causing unrestrained emotion; frenzied.

not sure the WT was referring to Meg Ryan's performance.

Larry J said...

"What's so bad about shuffling Republicans and Democrats together for the State of the Union Address?

It's just another example of empty symbollism over substance. It is especially empty coming a day after Cohen compared Republicans to Nazis. If that's the "new civility," they can go to hell.

yashu said...

Because that utterly inane gesture, which means & effects less than nothing, but is nevertheless spun & buzzed about in the context of the preceding days, functions oh so obviously as another plug of the cynical marketing campaign "Together We Thrive" (kicked off by O at the memorial service).

Original Mike said...

"Which NFL celebration should the congressmen perform?"

Randy Moss' mooning of the Packer fans at Lambeau Field.

Terrye said...

I don't care where they sit, I won't be watching it. I am tired of Obama.

Original Mike said...

I wouldn't have watched under normal circumstances (I, too, am tired of O), but the Supreme Court diss and now this will have me watching, at least at the start.

Maybe that's the whole point. Boost ratings.

Michael said...

I think they should be made to stand the entire speech.

gk1 said...

I'd settle for the president not making an ass out of himself and the office he supposedly upholds by scolding the SCOTUS to their faces as they have to sit there like potted plants. I hope the only ones that show up this year are Ginsburg and Sottomayer.

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

As with every Obama speech, the real orgasmic response will occur in the media once the event concludes. I don't even have to watch to know that whatever he says will be declared as the bestest speech evah in the history of mankind! Until, of course, his next speech.

AJ Lynch said...

So Althouse, you think the country is in need of meaningless gestures? Sorry but I disagree. We could use a govt that can fix one f-ing thing then fix another and so on. When is the last time the govt fixed one thing well? Iraq? Af-Pak? Katrina? Deficit? Uninsured? K-12 public schools?

PatCA said...

If they hold hands and sing kumbaya when the prez walks in, I'd go for it. Open with the shaman guy from Tuscon, too.

Lucien said...

You have to figure that was Meg Ryan's B fake orgasm, don't you?

Because if she used her A, then she couldn't really date anyone who'd seen the movie.

(Also, she might have wanted something in reserve, in case there was a sequel.)

lemondog said...

When is the last time the govt fixed one thing well?

Congressional health care.

Shanna said...

Personally, I think they should all politely sit, listen to the President, sit on their hands and shut the hell up until the end of the address and applaud.... or not.

Here here. If they did this, no one would no where anybody was sitting.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

Let 'em all sit together, but put a giant on-camera applause meter over Obama's head. Encourage booing. Elect loud representatives.

Jody said...

orgiastic != orgasmic

Scott M said...

(Also, she might have wanted something in reserve, in case there was a sequel.)

Awesomesauce.

David said...

Vary it year by year.

Year 1. Random mixing.

Year 2. Group by sex.

Year 3. By race.

Year 4. Sexual orientation.

Year 5. Age.

Etc.

It would be so American to do that.

garage mahal said...

Randy Moss' mooning of the Packer fans at Lambeau Field.

I hear there is a rendition of the Hurt Locker happening on Sunday at Soldier Field. Starring Clay Matthews.

stevenehrbar said...

What the House should do is deny the President the venue, requesting instead a written report like those submitted by Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt.

Scott M said...

How dare you deface good art, Garage, by implying any association whatsoever with the Maroons Of The Midway.

Scott M said...

lol

“In general, I think we put too much weight on things like Chinese dollar reserves, or the fact that the global oil trade is conducted in dollars, and the like. Our real economic problems are far simpler: We spend too much, borrow too much, carry too much debt, have a poorly structured tax system and an overextended national-defense presence, are governed by a Congress of children, and refuse to believe that the laws of supply and demand apply to U.S. dollars and U.S. Treasury bonds.”

traditionalguy said...

If the Obama speech mentions support for the false CO2 as pollution scam, then the GOP guys had better all jump up and shout "Liar", even if there has been enough bribe money offered to every Congress person. The public outcry over that serious of a sellout should end every GOP career that goes quietly along with it for bribe money.

Original Mike said...

"I hear there is a rendition of the Hurt Locker happening on Sunday at Soldier Field. Starring Clay Matthews."

Hey. It's "Let's all be civil week". Remember?

edutcher said...

This was intended to be part of the Demos' Civility Offensive until Cohen and Sheila Jackson Lee declared war.

Ann Althouse said...

I'll bet, if you did a scientific study, you'd find that, during orgasm, remaining stonefaced is much more common than applause.

Now we know where the mirror is.

I say mix it up!

Which is what Brooks said to Sumner.

PS According to several psychologists, many women at Nazi rallies in the 30s exhibited the same physiological reactions as if having an orgasm. We'll see what happens this time.

garage mahal said...

Yea even the Packers/Bears have been all nicey nice to each other this week. Rodgers is friends with some Bear players like Cutler and Tommie Harris. Not like the Ken Stills Charles Martin days is it?

jimbino said...

Meg Ryan's fake orgasm was great, but I'm sure that a lot of my ex-girlfriends have done better.

Revenant said...

They could hermetically seal both parties in plastic bags and dump them in the Potomac for all I care.

Original Mike said...

"Not like the Ken Stills Charles Martin days is it?"

The good old days.

Christy said...

I laugh. Can I file that under Applause?

Do the rest of you find it nigh on to impossible to sit when those around you are giving someone a standing ovation, deserved or not? Civility drives me to stand.

Guess I'm simply suspicious of any suggestion by a Democrat. And I was a registered Dem until moving 2 years ago.

AJ Lynch said...

Lemondog:

Fixed one thing? Congressional health care.

Good one- was that when they added Viagra to the Congress critters drug plans?

AJ Lynch said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dust Bunny Queen said...

Do the rest of you find it nigh on to impossible to sit when those around you are giving someone a standing ovation, deserved or not? Civility drives me to stand.

Not really. I also don't clap if I don't feel like it. And don't leave a tip if the service was bad.

I'm a mean mean woman....or so my husband says :-D

Hoosier Daddy said...

They could hermetically seal both parties in plastic bags and dump them in the Potomac for all I care.

I'm betting that would trigger an EPA violation. Or at least illegal dumping.

garage mahal said...

For O.M.-
Ken Stills levels Matt Suhey

Original Mike said...

I don't see anything wrong with that.

I do love the multiple flags flying in.:-)

edutcher said...

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Do the rest of you find it nigh on to impossible to sit when those around you are giving someone a standing ovation, deserved or not? Civility drives me to stand.

Not really. I also don't clap if I don't feel like it. And don't leave a tip if the service was bad.

I'm a mean mean woman....or so my husband says :-D


No, you just have standards. Having done customer service myself, I appreciate those who stand and wait. If the service is bad, I'll tip something, but not my usual 15%.

Belkys said...

And calling God in the Congress would violate the separation between State and Church

dont tread 2012 said...

Kindergarten Congress.

Inert alert!

BJM said...

@1jpb

Cons, don't be sourpusses.

Bite me.

I agree with DBQ, seat shuffling is a PR stunt and that partisan applause should cease. The entire proceedings are little more than campaign fluff, it's time to phase it out for an online video and documentation from the WH web site.

The Supremes should skip Obama's phony dog & pony show, they do not owe the office of POTUS a courtesy as none was shown to theirs.

BJM said...

@David

It would be so American to do that.


Choosing ones own seat would be American, assigning seating by social engineering criteria is so Euroweenie.

Ken said...

The only reason that Democrats want to mix everyone up is so their propaganda organs can hide the fact that a majority of Congress will not be joining in the applause. The lapdog media can then report applause from all portions of the chamber, ignoring the fact that more than half of those present are sitting on their hands.

It is a very bad idea, at least if you believe in factual reporting.

Shanna said...

And don't leave a tip if the service was bad.

The only time I don't leave any tip (if service is bad, I'll leave a low tip), is when the waiter or waitress is out and out rude. I had a waitress who made a face when she saw change on the table for a tip and so I took it back...(it had been 10 or 15%, just in change).

Dust Bunny Queen said...

The only time I don't leave any tip (if service is bad, I'll leave a low tip), is when the waiter or waitress is out and out rude

True.

They have to be really, really, really bad to get stiffed. I also do not blame the wait staff for the quality of the food or anything else about the restaurant. It isn't their fault. They just work there.

I used to be a restaurant waitress and a cocktail waitress at one time, so I have great sympathy for their job. It is a hard job and a good waitress/waiter is a treasure.

Paul Brinkley said...

I tend to leave a tip for barbers (since I virtually always return), but I almost never leave a tip at restaurants where you place your order and then pick it up from the counter. Now I'm kinda wondering if that's consistent with the tipping rules you guys are following. After all, I'm not getting any service other than the cooking. No one comes to the table and asks how everything is, no one refills my drink, no one handles other problems; once I get the food, the entire staff could fall unconscious in the back room and I'd never know. ...but I always wonder.

Cedarford said...

Shuffling people together? Stupid symbolism.

joated said...

You do realize those NFL dance moves now result in a 15 yard penalty for excessive celebration, right?

And as for your final sentence:
"I say mix it up!"
If by "mix it up" you mean brawl...I'm all for it!

Alex said...

What I want to know is what % of American adults even watch SOTU?

Fred4Pres said...

A patrami sandwich at Katz's gets me hot just like that scene in When Harry Met Sally (which was filmed in at Katz's).

But beyond the patrami, I think the GOP wants to show it won so spliting the chamber allows that. Even still, I would not get too hung up on seating arangements. If they want to mix it up, fine but it stays that way.

ken in sc said...

I don't think this idea would have ever come up if the Democrats had won the November election.

ken in sc said...

wv--Prics --no kidding

Fred4Pres said...

pastrami. my bad.

Katz has very good pastrami.

Alex said...

Connie returns a spoon Bobby left at her house and asks Peggy if he will be better by the dance, to which she replies "Bobby is doing everything he can to get back on his feet for that dance. No more deli meats for him". And Bobby is then seen on an elderly person's scooter chair, creeping down the street. Connie sees Bobby eating at the "Show Biz Deli" & calls him out for eating liver. She cries and asks "You would rather stuff yourself and ride around in your stupid electric cart than take me to the dance?" to which he replies "Well, I guess I would." Connie runs out of the deli crying. Bobby angrily asks for some more disgusting food and Carl says "Bobby don't you think you've had enough?" to which Bobby replies "I'll tell you when I've had enough!"

Fred4Pres said...

Homemade pastrami

I would suggest trying it, getting it done, eating it. Heck, if you impress your wife enough you might get the real deal later on.

bagoh20 said...

In my bedroom, there is definitely no faking. In fact, I've had to enforce NFL type restrictions on that Meg Ryan type stuff. I usually sleep alone, but that doesn't mean there is no scoring and resulting cacophonous celebration.

Fen said...

Its probably another trap.

Lgbpop said...

Leave the Dems separate. That was I won't need a big-screen TV to see them this year. Dick Tracy's Wrist TV will do just fine.

By the way: Not sure about orgiastic vs. orgasmic, but rather than 'discomforted' above the word used should be discomfited.