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House Handshakers Already Lined Up for Obama

President Obama's speech to a joint session of Congress tonight won't be an official State of the Union address, but everyone is treating it that way. Including the annual handshake hogs.

Those are the members of Congress who, every year, no matter whether they like the president in office or not, stake out aisle seats many hours in advance of the speech so they can shake the president's hand -- on prime time national television, no less.

The club of handshake hogs includes die-hard liberals who each year, without fail, during President Bush's eight-year presidency, snagged aisle seats early in the day to be in prime handshake position for the president's entrance and exit from the House chamber.

And so it goes this year.

At 9:30 a.m. this morning, California Reps. Barbara Lee and Loretta Sanchez, both Democrats, were spotted on the House floor putting paper signs on two aisle seats, according to a well-placed Sleuth informant. And they weren't the first ones to do so.

Most of the aisle seats had already been "reserved" by other members, our source says. Technically, members are not allowed to reserve seats though the House sergeant-at-arms rarely intervenes.

But what with this being the year of Obamamania and all, we imagine there will be more handshake hogs than ever. We'll see how out-of-control things get and whether House officials who oversee rules and decorum on the floor will have to intervene.

If this year is anything like last year, President Obama had better be prepared to be seriously loved by the handshake crowd.

Last year, one of the longtime House handshakers, former congressman Chris Shays (R-Conn.), made headlines when he kissed Bush on the cheek.

And a lethal kiss it was. Shays lost his reelection bid in November.

By Mary Ann Akers  |  February 24, 2009; 11:20 AM ET
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Love your column. Perhaps a typo today? Para 6, "Technically, members are now allowed to reserve seats though the House sergeant-at-arms rarely intervenes."

Shouldn't that read "members are [not] allowed...? Currently doesn't make sense that if they are allowed, s-a-arms would have a reason to intervene.

Keep up the good work!

Posted by: rla217 | February 24, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse

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