My thoughts on going to the State of the Union last night:
First, what an honor! It was all very surreal to me and I just kept thinking something would come up and I would not get in.
Doors opened at 6:30 P.M. and I arrived at 7:00. I went through a tunnel between house office buildings and my name was on the list and I had my ticket and ID, so I went through a second metal detector and then an airport scanner and then another metal detector. I had no idea where I was going and I was there so early that there were few people in the halls, so I had to asked several guards to help me find my way!
I didn’t take a phone (traumatic) because I knew I would have to turn it in. So, when I sat down I started taking notes and a lady guard told me that I could not write anything. So, I sat and did nothing for two hours except people watch.
I saw Chuck Schumer and thought he looked much older in person. Nancy Pelosi looks better in person than on tv. Cory Booker has a female staffer dressed just like me. Did I mention I did a lot of people watching? I picked out the senators from Iowa, Missouri… and my favorites like Sam Graves and the other ones you see on tv all the time. Billy Long was hard to miss. Debbie Wasserman Schultz is short. Why are all those people wearing shoulder scarves. What do the butterflies they are wearing mean. That sort of thing.
There were many candidates there that our firm works with and some of their opponents. I noticed a lot of the Democrats in swing states that our candidates are running against stood and clapped with the president more than their colleagues. More on that later.
It was cold in the house chamber when I arrived. Once we were closer to the start, they turned on a lot of bright lights. I felt like I was under a heat lamp, but it was great.
I was seated near the 50-yard line right next to the cameras that were on the president for the speech. Next to me was a cameraman from Politico that knew my boss and was embedded in the Trump campaign. Of course, he went to school in Kirksville and is from Ottumwa, so we hit it off.
The president’s speech in that room was structured, subdued, quiet, buzz-wordy red meat stuff for the base that reminded blue collar folks why they put this guy over the finish line. It was also long and past my bedtime, but he had a lot of things he needed to say.
From my viewpoint I could see which Democrats stood or clapped for what. Many were on their phones. One lady read a newspaper as he came out. I’m sure the GOP members did the same to Obama. Pelosi clapped and stood more than most and by her instructions others would follow suit. She would also use her hands to tell her colleagues to not boo or hiss. Despite how you feel about her policies, she carries herself well in person.
I’ve watched the SOTU since I was a very young child and my favorite person to watch has always been Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee. She didn’t really stand or clap for much.
Democrats did stand for issues like patriotism, vocational training and lower drug prices. It was early in the speech, but I was surprised they didn’t stand for jobs for minorities or manufacturing jobs coming back to the U.S. That told me they either don’t believe the numbers OR they don’t want to give the president credit for them. I think this is a mistake, because they can not lose the position that their party is for the American worker and Trump has really taken away from that base, politically. In the response speech, you could tell their polling and advisors are worried about the same. formal maternity dresses
Democrats did stand for our flag and really there were a lot of moments where you could tell that folks respected the position of the president no matter if they agreed with him and that they respect and love our country. There was so much diversity in that room – race, shape, gender, ideology, etc. They are all so different from their perspectives that it is a miracle they accomplish anything.