Bipartisan Seating 01/25/2011
Now that more information has come out and Jared Loughner has disappointed many by having mere insanity, not any conservative political leanings, be the reasoning behind his shooting in Tucson we will now witness the one lasting impact that his rampage has brought about: Members of the opposing parties sitting next to each other during President Obama's State of The Union Address. That's right! Republicans and Democrats sitting next to each other! A new day of bipartisanship and peace has dawned!
In response to an act that some jumped to conclude was the result of “images” and “coded rhetoric”, our ever competent Congress has responded by doing the equivalent of rearranging the seats on our own metaphorical Titanic. Sitting next to each other? Why, now they might even talk to each other, or you know, work with each other to reach agreements and compromises. But why would they have to do that now? After all, they sat next to someone from the other party during a speech, and you know what? She didn't have the urge to give him a wet willy once!
At best the new seating arrangement is a laughable gimmick that will soon be forgotten and lightly tittered at when remembered in years past. At worst it is a cheapening of bipartisanship that will set the bar so low that a member of Congress will be considered reaching across the aisle if he fails to key an opposing members car at least once a day. (An aide would do it of course. What, with the congressman being so busy finding people to read bills for him and all)
I know that this is just a symbolic response to the highly heated and dangerous inflammatory partisan speech that was invented in 2009. (To the surprise of burned Bush effigies and creators of assassination fetish books and movies everywhere) But sometimes we need to step back and give the facts a chance to come out before we jump to conclusions and pull out our symbolic responses, when symbolic responses are about the least useful thing we need right now.
Perhaps some in congress were relieved when they thought the cause of the rampage was symbols, that way the response would be something so easy even they couldn't screw it up: Make more symbols. Because Lord knows when it comes to producing tangible products like jobs and a secure border, that factory got so slow that even the rats are starving. But of course now we know it wasn't symbols, at least not any produced by a political group, but just plain old insanity. And when faced between tackling a very real problem about helping those that need help and doing something trite, we get to see if members of Congress can find a seat with their name written on it without the help of five aides the the consul of three lawyers.
But maybe I'm just being cynical. Maybe maybe Sen. Huckster and Sen. Thrice-Hyphenated-Name will be able to sit down next to each other in peace. They'll look each other in the eyes, birds will sing, the strings of bipartisanship will hum their lovely tune and yes they'll agree: Indeed, the sky is blue, and warm apple pie does taste good with a slice of American cheese.