United States Capitol, January 25, 2011
I like to think that I have a decent vocabulary. Â I’d also like to think that if I had to describe a situation, any situation, I’d have a wide array of words at my disposal in which to choose. Â But as I sat in The House of Representatives Gallery last night at the United States Capitol, listening to the State of the Union Address, I realized that I couldn’t really fully describe the situation, not with just ordinary words. Â The President of the United States was standing directly in front of me, less than 100 feet away. Â The First Lady was seated to my right, maybe 50 feet away. Â And directly below me were the more than 500 members of the 112th Congress.
Somehow, I ended up with one of the best seats in the House. Â Pun intended, but true. Â From my vantage point I could see everyone and everything. Â And when the President entered the room was the very moment that I truly realized that this was a once-in-a-lifetime type moment. Â For at least thirty minutes I expected someone to come tap me on the shoulder and ask me what I was doing there. Â It really was a big deal. Â Pomp and circumstance were on full display. Â And I’m pretty sure that our politicians are well aware of all the TV cameras, photographers, and media. Â They seem to really soak up the bright lights.
As for me, I don’t think I blinked for two straight hours as I scanned the room non-stop, trying to gather every bit of information possible. Â Cell phones were not permitted, so photos were not an option. Â But the room itself is very bright, and it has such a surreal feel to it that it almost looks like a movie set.
The setting is so intimate, with about 1,000 people in the room that I actually forgot how many millions were watching on television. Â That’s when I decided that I needed to start listening more closely to the speech and spend less time scanning the crowd like a rube from North Dakota. Â The speech itself seemed pretty normal, about an hour and five minutes long. Â President Obama spoke at length about business, technology and the like. Â But his best points were when he discussed teachers in our country. Â ”We need to praise the good ones and stop making excuses for the bad ones.” Â That struck a nice note. Â It was interesting to watch the members of Congress during the speech. Â Whether they stood and applauded pretty much was divided right down the party lines.
I could go on for an hour, but suffice it to say that my mind still hasn’t wrapped itself all the way around the events of the evening. Â At one point, within 30 seconds, Hillary Clinton and House Majority Leader John Boehner walked within a foot of me down a hallway as I leaned casually against a statue of someone important. Â I was trying to blend in. Â I’m not sure if I did. Â I’m sure I will add some more in the next day or two, but for now it’s back to work as a TV guy on Capitol Hill.
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