Whoever came up with the term “date night” to describe the seating arrangements anticipated at the President’s State of the Union Address on Tuesday night has a good handle on just how juvenile the behavior of some of our lawmakers has become. When it comes down to actually having to physically require Democrats to sit with Republicans and vice versa to give the appearance of bi-partisanship, we are in deep, deep trouble.
The fact that it took the shooting of a colleague to make legislators appear to act like adults is telling. But before we get all proud of ourselves as Americans and think that our representatives are finally going to act like adults on their own, consider what exactly has to be done to accomplish a bi-partisan seating arrangement on Tuesday.
Joe Wilson (R-South Carolina) will be required to sit in the front row, center seat of the chamber so that President Obama can keep his eye on him. Remember, Wilson was the senator who yelled out “You lie!” at Obama in 2009 when he was addressing a joint session of Congress to discuss health care reform. While he has promised to behave, seating planners are taking no chances with this rabble rouser and he’ll be joined on either side by Democratic senators as yet to be named.
The American Public Health Association (APHA) has recently disseminated a pamphlet entitled “You Can’t Catch Cooties from a Democrat” to all the Republican lawmakers prior to their attendance at the State of the Union Address. The pamphlet was prepared to quell long-standing beliefs Republicans have had that they could very well catch cooties while being forced to stand near or sit next to a Democrat in any public setting. This pamphlet will come in extremely handy for the handling of Joe Wilson.
Special row monitors will be on hand at the end of each row of seating to monitor the passing of notes by disgruntled senators. The necessity of this action came to light immediately following last year’s State of the Union Address when a crumpled up piece of paper was found on the House chamber floor. The note read thusly “Glad we’re sitting way over here, cause I hear you can catch cooties from them Democrats, ha ha.” The note also contained a crude drawing of President Obama with what appeared to be little bugs crawling on his suit.
John Boehner was asked if he felt these measures were necessary to get legislators to act like ladies and gentlemen and not resort to the childish reactions witnessed at last year’s address. Boehner replied simply, “They started it.”