Should Congress sit together during SOTU?
I've seen a lot of knee jerk reactions to this proposal for Congress to eschew party labels and have the GOP and Dems sitting together.
One one level, I totally agree that this would redound to the benefit of Obama and the Democrats with the GOP getting precious little PR value out of such an exercise.
On the other hand, turning it down would definitely reflect badly on Republicans with independents and moderates. So, do you hand the Dems a propaganda victory or do you risk alienating a large segment of the electorate?
Not an easy choice to be sure. And in the aftermath of Tucson, not playing nice with the Dems might seem to be a useless move. Like it or not, the public might not be blaming the rhetoric of the GOP for the shootings, but they believe that the tragedy presents a golden opportunity for "bi-partisanship." As in the aftermath of other tragedies, partisanship - unless it is cleverly disguised as Clinton's blaming talk radio following the Oklahoma City bombing was - doesn't sit well with voters. Better to swallow the impulse to get on with business as usual and bow to the sensibilities of the public.
This particular gesture offers the advantage of not meaning anything substantive while avoiding the PR fallout from refusing to go along. It might be better to go along with the idea - and then hammer Obama and the left in the GOP response. That way, you get the best of both worlds.