Who Will Sit With Mark Udall?

January 18 2011, 10:03 AM

U.S. Senator Mark Udall's proposal that Democrats and Republicans sit together during President Barack Obama's State of the Union address next week has rallied some support. Twenty-one senators have signed the Colorado Democrat's petition, including Republicans John McCain of Arizona, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Olympia Snowe of Maine, and several members of the House, according to the Denver Post. Notably missing, so far, from the official Udall Kumbaya club is the remainder—all six members—of Colorado's congressional delegation, although Democrat Diana DeGette and Republican Cory Gardner may yet tag along.

The typical State of the Union arrangement seats members of opposing parties on opposite sides of the House chamber, where they tend to fold their arms, frown, or applaud in unison depending on their partisan interpretations of the president's words. Regardless of how much support his petition receives, Udall says he'll cross the aisle to make a point. "My custom would be to take a left and go sit on the Democratic side of the House chamber, but I'll take a right—I predict there will be a lot of senators who join me," he says (via KUNC radio). The gesture isn't likely to alter the nasty climate in Washington, writes Newsday, but "if a revised seating chart comes to reflect a genuine realization that winner-take-all politics doesn't serve the nation very well, it could lead to important progress."