U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-Metairie) said today he’s planning to sit next to U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-New Orleans) at tomorrow night’s State of the Union address, joining the symbolic love-fest seating arrangements Congressmen and Senators have been making for two weeks as a show of unity in the wake of the shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) earlier this month.
“I think this is a sign that we’re all in solidarity and support of her and her battle to recover from the tragedy in Tucson,” Scalise told WRNO-FM in New Orleans.
Scalise isn’t the only Louisiana Republican seeking cozy arrangements with Richmond for the State of the Union. The entire Louisiana House delegation is planning on sitting together, giving Richmond – the only Democrat in the delegation – plenty of company.
Sen. Mary Landrieu, Louisiana’s Democrat senator, said she’s planning to sit next to Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine. The bi-partisan “date” phenomenon has brought on lots of weird pairings – Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Sen. John Thune (R-SD), for example, and Rep. Steve King (R-NY) and Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY), who can’t stand each other. South Carolina Republican Joe Wilson, who caused a stir last year by blurting out “You Lie” in the midst of a speech by President Obama to Congress on health care in September of 2009, said he’ll be sitting next to California Rep. Susan Davis (D) and Guam Del. Madeleine Bordallo (D) at the address.
But with all the talk about the State of the Union seating arrangements, several of the Louisiana delegation’s staffers we talked to expressed (off the record, of course) strong dissatisfaction with the entire issue having arisen.
“This business is stupid even by Washington standards,” said one. “It isn’t even good symbolism.”
“There’s only about 500 people in America who give a rat’s butt where members of Congress sit during a speech,” said another, “and all 500 of them live, work and do inappropriate things to microphones in Washington, DC.”
But the widespread sentiment that the seating arrangements are an asinine gesture aside, jumbled seating for the address will be the order of the evening tomorrow night. Whether Richmond catches a stray elbow while standing up to cheer for one left-wing policy suggestion from the president or another by his new neighbors will be an interesting thing to watch for, though.