After the State of the Union Address, many lawmakers rush just down to the hall to the Old House Chamber, now known as Statuary Hall, where dozens of reporters and TV cameras are camped out, all breathlessly waiting for off-the-cuff reaction to the President’s remarks.
The first lawmakers cut out of the speech just before 10 pm EST, when President Obama still had over 20 minutes left to go, but obviously they wanted to get their interviews done fast, sort of those who leave a baseball game just before the 7th inning stretch.
The Mosh Pit did not have the usual “buzz” of past years. In fact, the pulse that many of my colleagues felt was a weak one at best last night.
As I remarked on Twitter from there, “Mosh Pit seems oddly muted tonight, like everyone knew the score before the game was played.”
In other words, everyone stayed on script. Democrats liked what they heard. Republicans were skeptical of most things the President said.
The bottom is that not much, if anything, changed last night.
Earlier in the day, GOP Leaders in the House has warned their rank-in-file not to repeat the “You lie!” outburst of Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), urging their members to behave and reminding them that anything out of line would then dominate the news, instead of the President’s message.
In other words, Republicans think things are going bad for Mr. Obama right now, and they don’t want to get in the way of that political gravity.
And it definitely seems that health care and more will be on the back burner. Both parties say they want to work together, but reaching an actual accord on something big seems like a longshot right now.
But there are lots of bridges to be crossed in coming months.