This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.
When President Obama gives his State of the Union address tonight, something will be a little different: Dozens of Republicans and Democrats will be sitting with each other, not with their own party.
It’s a symbolic but nonetheless welcome gesture, one meant to help defuse the highly partisan atmosphere that has often tainted this annual speech and others when the president addresses a joint session of Congress (remember last year when Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., yelled “You lie!” when Obama spoke to Congress about his health care plan).
The president’s speech is usually met with cheers, applause and even standing ovations from members of his own party and stony silence from members of the other. With legislators sitting by party, the division isn’t just apparent, it’s glaring. Only occasionally – say, when the president praises the military or makes some other “Mom and apple pie” comment – does everyone applaud, regardless of party affiliation. Read more »