After a mostly backbench existence for two years (elected in Nov. 2008), Colorado Senator Mark Udall finally reaches national exposure with a symbolic, but well-timed, gesture of the new bi-partisanship and civility that is characterizing the start of this 2011 Congress.
His proposal to have senators sit together without partisan distinction has captured the imaginations of politicians, commentators and people. It also will be a great visual metaphor at the top political spectral of the new Congress. Crowd panning TV coverage is made for discussion of the seating choices of members by news anchors and pundits. We will know Tuesday night the state of civility among the political class and woe to those who chose to maintain their old partisan ways. Their base may like it, and there may be some notoriety, but the theme de jure is “why can’t we just get along.”
The president tends to dominate the night, and Obama plans to launch his 2012 re-election on the themes of compromise (i.e., don’t mess with my agenda and first two years of legislation), civility (i.e., quiet down Rush, Shawn and Sarah) and jobs.
The night should produce good television and political theater.