Among the weirdest parlor games D.C. plays is the who's-sitting-with-whom game at the State of the Union speech. This year, expect Obamacare to collapse and a massive shake-up in the 2016 race by way of the strategic seating choices made by members of Congress.
Politicians believe that there's some alchemist's magick in how and who sits where during the State of the Union speech. In 2011, the theory was that mixing Republicans and Democrats together during the speech would cure our country's divisiveness. That did not work. In 2012, No Labels bought an ad in a newspaper hoping for the same thing. That did not work either. We are still divided. Who Congress sits near appears — appears! — to have little effect on interparty politics.
But what about winning policy debates? Every member of Congress gets to bring a guest, so the Republican House leadership figures that the key to finally winning the Obamacare debate is to remind people that in some cases Obamacare hasn't been a smashing success. Politico outlines the plan: "At least a dozen GOP lawmakers are bringing Obamacare plus-ones to the State of the Union in a coordinated effort, according to information provided by the House Republican Conference and individual offices." Ohio Rep. Bill Johnson says that this is "putting a face to the problem." (The problem already had a face, for what it's worth.) This has been the Republicans' plan for a while, looking for anecdotal examples of the law's failures and flubs in an attempt to … what? Get people mad about Obamacare? Madder? It seems unlikely that Obama will give the Republicans' guests a shout-out during his speech, so the extent to which they'll be visible to the public isn't clear.