|President strikes his "nose in air" pose|
Each member of Congress was asked to go to the website seatbuddy.gov and fill out a simple questionnaire so that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano could select their ideal seating partner for the SOU address.
The match up process was loosely based on those by dating websites match.com and eharmony.com.
Since there are 535 members of congress, which is an odd number and impossible to divide evenly, one congress member will have to sit with First Lady Michelle Obama to make the seating plan work out right.
The questionnaires were submitted last week and Secretary Napolitano made the tough decisions, but the actual seating plan was not revealed to the press. You will have to tune in tonight to see who was matched up with whom.
Here are a few of the questions that were used to determine the ideal seating partners:
1. A president should have a valid birth certificate. TRUE or FALSE
2. It is important for us to apologize to Cuba for the trade embargo TRUE or FALSE
3. Income taxes should be much higher. The rich should pay more. TRUE or FALSE
4. We only have 50 states, although sometimes it feels like more TRUE or FALSE
5. Once you get to know him, Hugo Chavez is a pretty nice guy TRUE or FALSE
Ms. Napolitano then used the responses to match up the most compatible members of each party to sit with each other during the speech. President Barack Hussein Obama, D-Kenya, hailed the plan "as a positive step to assure bipartisanship among lawmakers."
In addition, in an effort to include everyone, over 50 folding chairs were rented so President Obama's Czars could attend the SOTU address.
This effort was the result of a petition circulated to members earlier this month, Sen. Mark Udall, D-CO, called on his colleagues to sit with a lawmaker of the opposing party as a way to heal Congress’s increasingly divisive rhetoric, debates that in the public arena have at times erupted into hateful rhetoric and even violence.
The bipartisan gesture carries a serious tone for nearly all who have pledged to do away with the typical seating arrangement, which is not assigned but generally gets divided by party.
But the humor of asking one of their fellow lawmakers to attend the event as their “date” has not escaped members.
“It’s a little like prom,” joked one Democrat, who asked not to be identified. “You just hope they don’t turn you down.”
Some members of congress are planning to bring corsages and boutonnieres for their seat buddys. Congressman Barney Frank, D-MA has requested a "pink wrist corsage" from whoever gets selected to sit with him.