Thursday, February 03, 2005

14-hour workday: 2005 State of the Union Address

I started work at 9:30 AM and did two big media things yesterday. I covered an event in Dirksen (story to be posted later) and the evening I was a part of the Scripps Howard News Service coverage of Bush's State of the Union Address. No, you couldn't see me on TV, but you could see where I was in the wide shots.

We (Me, Kate, Jessie, & Glenn) left the bureau at 7:15 PM, and used the Subway that goes from Russell Senate Office Building to the Capitol. Damn those things are fun. But they can also be a bit annoying. You know that stupid tune they play each hour from Anderson hall at K-State? They play that whenever the doors are about to close on this subway. Grrrr.

We got to the capitol, and even though we had to show our badges at each stairwell and corridor throughout a building that has way too many stairwells and corridors. Those cops are so anal retentive they make English teachers seem apathetic.

We got to the Press Gallery a little before 8PM, and my esteemed colleague Joe was there. The speech was to start at 9 or so, (we're on Eastern time here kiddies, remember?). So we sat around and waited.

And waited.

And then...

We waited more.

Then they let us in. I would have brought my camera with me, only they don't allow us to have any electronic devices in there with us. Or binoculars. Or food or drink. Bah.

We all had tickets that entitled us to nothing more than standing room, but, if we saw open seats, we could take them for ourselves.

Unless someone with a ticket for said seat shows up, then you move thy meat and lose thyne seat.

We got in, and Joe and I found a pair of empties on the Democrat side of the building. (I expect all Democrats reading this blog to cheer at this moment). And no one with a ticket for them showed up.

It was quite a view from that chair, up there in the nosebleed section of that room. Don't be fooled by how the TV Cameras make the House Chamber look; that room is freaking small, and rather cramped at times like these.

And it smelled like crap.

I gazed out at the gathered throng of dignitaries, leaders, geniuses, statesmen and...

Who am I kidding? It was the Republicans and Democrats milling about.

Here's the list of people I recognized:

John Kerry
Bill Frist
Barak Obama
Trent Lott
Orrin Hatch
Sam Brownback
Barbara Boxer
Joe Lieberman
Hilary Clinton
Rick Santorum

Katherine Harris
Grace Napolitano
Michael Honda
Jim Ryun
Charles Rangel
Nancy Pelosi
Patrick Kennedy
Dennis Kucinich

Also Notable:
Lynne Cheney, VP Cheney's wife.
Ron Silver, actor and Narrator of Farenhype 9/11,
-sat with Lynne Cheney
The whole damn Cabinet.
The first lady with a bunch of distinguished guests

Cheney walked in, everyone cheered like mad, and it was scary. That guy walks like a poorly designed robot, I mean he was all over. The best way to put it was that he had the enthusiasm of a Jack Russell Terrier and the grace of an animatronic Panda (watch Fierce Creatures, you'll get the joke).

Then President George Walker Bush walked in, he looked happy, and took his place at the podium, and if I stood up from my seat I could have hit him with a rock or a paper airplane.

Talk about temptation.

The speech started, and since I was there just to witness it, I took notes just for this blog. Here's the result:

When Bush said "... we must make healthcare more affordable." the Democrats went insane. I mean an instant cheer that brought a large group of really old people to their feet very quickly. The Republicans just sat there, stunned, and reluctantly joined in.

I thought I saw a few of them say "F*****g democrats"

Sen. Rick Santorum had the funniest look on his face the entire damned time. Like he needs to buy Ex-Lax or something.

When Bush said something about Social Security being paid for by an all time low number of people compared to those taking benefits from it, one Democrat Representative, who was sitting next to Dennis Kucinich, started clapping like mad. I mean, like he was trying to get everyone to join in.

No one did. And he stopped, and crossed his arms like a pouting kid.

Joe Lieberman stood up and clapped on a few things few other Democrats liked, and gave out some funny looks to those those who jeered him.

Througout the entire speech, the Republicans seemed to be moving in unison. Like they were all controlled by some great Uni-Mind. Scary, ain't it?

About halfway through the speech, a guy walked around with "Escort to Sta room leaves in 5 min" on the back in thick marker. That meant any reporters who wanted to go to the Statuary Room could get there now, or get there late. Joe and I went.

The Statuary room is a room with a lot of statues. I hope you see the connection; if not, go here and never, ever come back.

It's the room where the press is allowed to set up cameras and talk to Congressmembers and such about the speech.

First, I spoke to Sen. Sam Brownback, which was easy because his (I think his title is) Director of Communications, Brian Hart, came and got me and gave me some time for a few little questions since he knew I'm from Kansas, the land of Brownback's constituents. Smart move on the part o' Mr. Hart

Then I got ahold of Ron Silver, the Actor I mentioned before who chilled with Mrs. Cheney during the speech. He was fun to talk to.

Then a friendly little woman got my attention, asked if I was interested in someone from Texas. Scripps has a few papers there, so I said yes. It was Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, who is a very nice, friendly woman; contrary to what others have told me.

I looked about, spotted Sen. Rick Santorum, followed him and tried to ask a question, and then he started a TV interview. I noticed the time, my deadline was getting close, so I went back to the Press Gallery (getting lost a few times on the way) and called it in on the phones in there as my cell phone was being difficult. I gave them the quotes, grabbed my coat, and headed back to the Statuary hall to try for one more good one before the deadline. I spotted Sen. John McCain finishing off an TV interview, said "Senator McCain," got him to answer a question before his next interview, and ran back to the gallery to call it in. It was too late, and the were sending it off.

At least I got to talk to him.

I went down on the elevator to the basement, got back on the subway to Dirksen Senate Office building, and started relaxing.

And then, halfway there, the train stopped moving and I smelled a smell that smelled of a burning electric motor.

I started laughing. Hell, I wasn't on deadline, why did I care? Of course, the people in the next car were on deadline, and they did care.

Then we started moving again, and all was well.

I left that building and headed for the Metro Red line that would take me home.

It was past 11:30 PM. 14 hours, ladies and gentlemen. Damn my feet hurt.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

My feet hurt and all I did was read your blog. :P
<3 Katie :)

4:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The temptation would be great.
Also, I like the list of "people you recognized"'s like, "Yeah, I saw Sammy Sosa getting into his car outside Wrigley Field."...Just kidding but, still really cool.

10:25 PM  

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