The Date of the Union

From The Houston Chronicle:

There was U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, in her coveted State of the Union perch along the aisle. Wearing an eye-catching lime-green jacket, she got her brief moment of TV exposure and a handshake from President Barack Obama, as usual, as the president made his way into the august chamber of the House.

This time, though, instead of sitting in a bloc with her fellow Democrats, Lee sat beside a real live Republican, U.S. Rep. Pete Olson of Sugar Land.

The two Houston lawmakers were enthusiastic participants in the State of the Union “date night,” a bipartisan gesture prompted by the shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., earlier this month.

The pre-speech curiosity was almost Oscar-night giddy — or maybe prom-night giddy — as lawmakers over the past several days paired off.

Original painting
(Click on image for larger version)


1.  Pete Olson
2.  Susan Davis
3.  Tom Coburn
4.  Chuck Schumer
5.  Heath Shuler
6.  Paul Gosar
7.  Lisa Murkowski
8.  Madeleine Bordallo
9.  Joe Wilson
10.  John Thune
11.  Sheila Jackson Lee
12.  Kirsten Gillibrand
13.  Tom Carper

More than 60 members signed up to sit beside one of their colleagues from a different party, including U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, the liberal Democrat from New York, who paired up with U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, a conservative Republican from Oklahoma.


House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi turned down an invitation from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., explaining via Twitter that she already had accepted an invitation from Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat, sat with fellow Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk, a Republican, who was attending his first State of the Union address.

“I’m bringing the popcorn; he’s bringing a Coke with two straws,” Durbin joked last week.


The move to break with tradition came earlier this month from a moderate Democratic policy group called Third Way and was quickly endorsed by Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo.

“I think we all believe that the State of the Union’s become more like a high school pep rally, and we want to change the tone and show the public that we can work together,” Udall said at a news conference a few hours before the president’s speech.

Joining him were U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and U.S. Reps. Heath Shuler, D-N.C., and Paul Gosar, R-Ariz. All three were co-signers of a “Dear Colleague” letter to every member of Congress, asking them to end the partisan-seating tradition.


Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., announced that he’d be sitting with Mark Udall’s cousin, U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M.

From Bloomberg Businessweek:

“It’s never a bad time to try to improve the comity in this institution,” Representative Jeb Hensarling of Texas, the chairman of the House Republican Conference, said earlier in the day before his “blind date” with a Democrat.

Hensarling sat next to Representative James Clyburn of South Carolina, a member of the House Democratic leadership team.

Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah sat between Democratic Senators Jim Webb of Virginia and Max Baucus of Montana. Republican Senator John Thune of South Dakota was flanked by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Tom Carper of Delaware, both Democrats.

Many House members from the same states sat together. Two representatives from Arizona, Republican Jeff Flake and Democrat Raul Grijalva, sat on either side of an empty seat reserved for Giffords, 40.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, sat with his Republican counterpart, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California.


Still, partisan differences surfaced. Democrats stood to applaud Obama when he praised the passage last year of legislation to overhaul the nation’s health-care system.


Most Democrats, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, didn’t join Republicans in applauding Obama’s proposed “medical malpractice reform to rein in frivolous lawsuits.”


Party leaders said they understood that the bipartisan sitting arrangement had its limits and wouldn’t necessarily be a stepping stone to legislative compromises on such contentious issues as spending and taxes.


Other bipartisan combinations included New York Representatives Peter King, a Republican, and Charles Rangel, a Democrat.

From The Seattle Times:

Members of Congress took the unusual step of sitting beside colleagues from the other party.

Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., who in September 2009 stunned the chamber by yelling “You lie!” at President Obama, sat Tuesday with Democratic Reps. Susan Davis of California and Madeleine Bordallo of Guam.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., sat next to Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas.

I guess Joe Wilson needed two babysitters.


Filed under Barack Obama, Charles Schumer, Democrats, Dick Durbin, humor, Jim Webb, Joe Wilson, John Cornyn, John McCain, Lisa Murkowski, Nancy Pelosi, Orrin Hatch, parody, Peter King, politics, Republicans, snark, Tom Carper, Tom Coburn, Wordpress Political Blogs

32 responses to “The Date of the Union

  1. jean-philippe

    Half of these guys would die if they knew they are on a French painting.

  2. Love for Renoir! I’m in heaven. 😀

    I’m glad the screeching of Representative A-hole (R-GA) was ignored to a great extent. He wanted Dems to look small in numbers. Hell, one was shot…they were smaller. The jerk.

    Did you die looking at Batshit’s crazy looking response to SOTU?

    • but do you like the frame? 😆 it’s take me almost as much time finding frames for these damned paintings as it’s taken to photoshop the paintings in the first place. i should go to michael’s and ask for assistance.

      the bachmann response was so friggin’ funny! 😆 honestly, i paid very little attention to the words, because the visual was so hilarious! looking at the wrong camera, the makeup put on with a trowel, and the the price is right arm and hand movements were comedy gold! by the way, looks like batshit bachmann’s been botoxing. to put the icing on the cake, bronzo the clown’s response was so dismissive and disrespectful to her (which was totally warranted)! the rethug/teabagger civil war is going to be so entertaining!

  3. I swear I saw McCain sitting next to John Kerry… maybe he was speed dating???

    Hey maybe this was a token gesture, but something’s gotta give because the party of no w a GOP majority has to get past the Senate with a Dem majority…
    & Obama says he’s got veto power & knows how to use it.

    The speech was a lot of fluff & not necessarily reality based….
    left me more wondering how will we get there from here???

    But it was all good theater, Eh?

    • capt underpants was sitting next to kerry, as well as udall. it was just a big fat lovefest in there. however, i noticed that batshit bachmann was sitting next to mean jean schmidt. i guess nobody else wanted to sit near the mean girls. by the way, batshit bachmann hates everything about obama, but she still got his autograph last night.

  4. All of them look better in Belle Epoche period outfits. I wonder if that means anything.

    • i think that, from now on, all sotu gatherings should be costume parties. they should continue with the bipartisan seating, but they should also have to coordinate their costumes. the rethugs don’t have to worry, because rich iott lost, so probably nobody will show up in a nazi uniform.

      • I forgot about that Dick Iott. He’s a reminder of what a freaking weird election year 2010 was. The worst part is that I think 2012 will be even stranger.

        • i’m not sure. it may be crazier in that some real whackos will crawl out of the woodwork to run for office, but i think that a lot of people already have buyer’s remorse and will go for the more mainstream candidates next time. we shall see.

  5. Friend of the court

    oh nonnie! a master piece. this is wonderful.

  6. We do need more comity in these trying times. Things need to be done, problems addressed, and throw a few moneychangers in jail for good measure. Obama has certainly got that centerist thing going, which is a requirement for governing. Now when we need more comedy….there’s always the Raisin!

    • i’m on the fence. while i don’t want they dueling in the capitol building, the friendship thing makes me a little nauseous. i remember my rep, debbie wasserman-schultz not going after ileana ros-lehtinen and the diaz-balart crime syndicate, because they were all friends when they were in the floriduhhh legislature together. sorry, be friends when you meet in the supermarket, but when it comes to politics, you fight the other side as hard as you can. not saying you have to fight dirty, but you have to fight.

  7. Snoring Dog Studio

    I was disgusted by comments from our politicians on both sides of the aisles about this request being “rompus room” tactics and the calling for continued polarization. We’ve elected petulant children to represent us. On a side note: I bet Obama was relieved that Bachmann didn’t have a better seat – he’d have to endure the mauling she gave GWBush.

    • this was all theater, pure and simple. that said, i think that the seating arrangement was a good thing, only because it looked and sounded a lot less like a pep rally, as it has for many years. i think the whole ‘prom date’ characterization was silly and overdone (but i had fun with it), but i admit that i chuckled gleefully that widdle ewic cantaw got turned down by nancy pelosi. maybe they should go back to sitting according to the states they’re from or even have a lottery where they have to pick their seats out of a hat.