Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Date Night

You know you write Young Adult romance when you're watching the State of the Union and are struck by how much it resembled a prom this year.

Or maybe I just have been blogging with the Fictionistas for a while, because you know how much we love crazy prom stories here.

In a spirit of bipartisanship in the wake of the Tucson tragedy that many are criticizing as empty symbolism, members of Congress abandoned their time-honored partisan seating chart and sat with members of the opposing party during Obama's speech to a joint session of Congres.

The last several days here in DC have been like a politican Match.Com as members of Congress have scrambled to find "dates" to the big event.

After all, those all-important prom pictures look that much better when you have the perfect date.

In years past, the State of the Union looked just like a junior high dance, with the Republicans on one side and the Democrats on the other. But now we have a more mature Congress that's graduated at least to high school.

The tradition of partisan seating dates to 1845 in the House of Representatives, with Democrats on one sides of the aisle, and Republicans on the other. But it wasn't until 1913 that it became the practice for the State of the Union. For the first time since Thomas Jefferson, President Woodrow Wilson personally delivered the State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress, and the Representatives and Senators observed the House's partisan seating.

For the next 70 years, partisan seating was the norm, but no overt partisanship during the speech. But in 1983, Democrats mockingly applauded President Ronald Reasan during a line in his State of the Union. From then on we saw an era of one side of the chamber leaping to their feet at various times during the speech, with the other side sitting quietly and sometimes grumbling. At times it looked like the party the president was from was engaged in a weird aerobic workout during the State of the Union, they would get up and down so often.

It was always entertaining, that's for sure. Several State of the Union drinking games were even built around the jovial jumping up and down. (Because let's face it, even for the biggest politics die-hards among us, the only way to get through these things is with a drink.)

But this new seating arrangement really screwed things up. It used to be that members of Congress didn't even really have to listen too terribly hard in order to participate in the political pep rally. If the President was from their party, all they had to do was pay attention to what the sea of politicans around them were doing. If your seatmates are standing and cheering, you do too.

I kept watching last night to see if anyone would mess up, forgetting that their seatmate was from the opposing party and just following along, caught up in the excitement. That would have been funny.

I do know of one person who was very caught up in the excitement of the evening. She kept standing up and clapping whenever she saw the people on TV doing so.

My 1-year-old daughter. :)

Hey, it's DC. We start 'em young.


  1. Cuteness! Amber, not the SOTU address.

  2. This post made me crack up. They did look slightly prommy awkward, didn't they?

    And I love Amber's pigtails.

  3. Great post. Some of it made me laugh so hard my husband wondered what I was reading - so I read him some. Then he laughed, too.

    And OMG, Amber is so cute. =oD