WASHINGTON (Jan. 25) — Inspired by a push to commingle members from both parties during tonight’s State of the Union address, some congresspeople are trying to take the concept several steps further to show a more diverse legislative body to the nation.
Ever since Colorado Sen. Mark Udall asked Democrats and Republicans to mix together instead of sitting on separate sides of the partisan aisle, others have been looking for additional ways to bridge the traditional divide with a symbolic act of unity.
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has asked members of both the House and Senate to swap shoes with the person sitting next to them. He would then adjourn Congress for a 30-minute recess right before President Obama’s speech tonight so members could “walk a mile in those shoes.”
“I think seeing representatives from both the left and the right hobbling a lap around the Capitol will give the American people a chance to realize just how hard we’re trying to work together,” said Schumer, a self-acknowledged size 13EEE who admitted he’d face a tight squeeze inside fellow New York Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand’s size 6 pumps.
Meanwhile, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) looked to take that idea to the next level, offering to exchange entire ensembles with fellow representatives.
“I’ve had my eye on that lovely teal pantsuit that (Louisiana Democrat) Mary Landrieu wore last week,” the usually conservative Coburn told reporters. “Hopefully, she’ll also be able to lend me the darling brooch that accessorized it perfectly.”
Congress is hoping to change the impression that they can’t agree on anything and prefer instead to bicker rather than negotiate and reason together. At last year’s annual address by the President, Republicans booed and threw garbage when Obama said he wouldn’t allow budget constraints to eliminate the nation’s social safety net. Similarly, Democrats made the “I am not worthy” bow-down motion to acknowledge their agreement with the president’s announced intention — later rescinded — that he’d open the gold reserves at Ft. Knox to the homeless.
Other plans to mix members into a more diverse group may not have been organized in time for tonight’s address. Illinois Democratic Senator Richard Durbin wanted both houses to sit boy-girl-boy-girl until it was pointed out that men vastly outnumber women. He amended his proposal to make for a boy-girl-boy-closeted gay Republican-boy-girl arrangement, but that too could not be put together in time.
Additional proposals to sort Congress by age, height, good cholesterol numbers, attractiveness, facial hair and zodiac signs will have to be delayed until next year, at the earliest. There was still hope at press time that idealistic newcomers could be blended in with veteran legislators who basically no longer give a shit.
Some White House sources indicated that the president himself would make a symbolic effort to represent both the left and right during his speech. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs acknowledged there was the possibility the president would deliver one sentence with a Kenyan accent while wearing a Che Guevara-style beret and delivering the Nazi sieg heil salute, and the next sentence in a calm, reasoned tone.
“The president recognizes the need to reach out and find common ground with all political perspectives,” Gibbs said. “We’ll probably put him on a swivel so he can more easily rotate without getting motion sickness.”