Eliot Engel, my colleague in the New York congressional caucus, gave me 75 bucks to hold his seat in the chamber while he was interviewed on MSNBC a couple hours ago, being palpably desperate to maintain his traditional position as ridiculous sycophant in front during the president’s State of the Union address tonight. As a veteran of the first iPhone line (Soho store), I was the ideal choice, though it galls that I was paid more to wait for the iPhone than the Prez.

Pre-“State” hubbub has, I don’t mind telling you, provided me with much-needed distraction from the pain of swelling above my mouth, in the spot where that Tea Party guy hit me a week or so ago. The swelling is beginning to look a lot like a small ball (which, due to the texture of my skin, is more Pennsy Pinky than Spaldeen).

I guess I should go see a doctor. I woulda gone today, but Eliot NEEDED me. Meantime, between the waiting and the swelling, I was bored, so while I seat-filled for Engel, I recorded and uploaded my response to the president’s address.

Why would I record a response to a president of my own party? And why would I do it in advance?

Well, aside from the fact that, in my opinion, there should be no “official” response from anyone (since the chief executive’s address is in his capacity as president, not partisan), it’s pretty clear this year’s four “official” Republican responses were written in advance as well. So, what exactly are they in response to? I decided that if various Republicans could pre-craft responses to something they hadn’t heard yet, I should trump them with a response both written AND disseminated before the event.

Perhaps I should have called my address a “PREsponse.” If it goes real well, maybe next year I’ll be asked to do the “Rand Paul Response.”

It can’t ALWAYS be delivered by Paul.


Just getting in now from the last of the State of the Union parties. The Vanity Fair one was as great as press reports always make it out to be. BIG stars there. I met Christian Bale and Joey Fatone and Macklemore!

Best one, though, was the Governors Ball (a name quite witty in this iteration).

You know how they sometimes have areas at Bat Mitzvahs where guests can take pictures with other guests as if they were in the South Seas or something? Well, at the Governors Ball, they had an area (inspired by me?) where guests could record their own State of the Union responses with different, official-looking backgrounds that could be keyed in behind them. Later, they showed the responses on big screens all around the ballroom.

Best was the president’s own, where he rebuked everything he’d said earlier and mimicked Mike Leigh’s strange, up-looking eyes and Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ Shirley Temple-like cutsie bullshit. Everyone loved it, even Cathy.

Okay, not everyone. Mike is sensitive about being a dork. But Ted Cruz laughed louder than anyone at Obama’s “Leigh eyes.”

Oh, and Speaker Pelosi said she was disappointed in me.

That wasn’t at the party, though. She said it to me earlier, after the president had finished speaking, as the members and guests were filing out of the chamber. She also told me I should have someone lance my boil. Do they even do that anymore?

Anyway, it’s not a boil, it’s an infected bruise. I think. I mean, what’s a boil?

The Speaker probably wouldn’t have been so disappointed by my professional ineffectuality if she’d known how much traffic my SOTO presponse had been generating. People weren’t finding it funny or anything, they were mostly commenting on my “boil.” Still, I was being noticed.

Just as SHE had noticed I’d been hangin’ out with Mike Grimm, kidding him about how, since Staten Island was almost New Jersey, his indictment for corruption was close to certain. Pelosi was probably as unhappy about my spending time with “The Grimm Reaper” (as we like to call him) as about my absence from the legislative fray. Don’t know if I got him stressed out with my joking about the corruption thing, but it was right before he lit into the reporter from NY1. Then, after he threatened the guy, he was mad at me for not backing him up.

But he was WRONG.

Plus, I realized I was probably also one of those people he figures he can break in half like a boy, so I felt a sense of solidarity with the reporter, who I now think of as “my fellow boy.”

At breakfast with a bunch of the New York gang after the last afterparty (including an increasingly regretful Grimm Reaper and Eliot Engel with no combover at all), I told Engel I had figured out his “gotta be in front of everybody/aisle seat” thing. It’s not, I announced (not just to him, but to Jerry Nadler, Nydia Velázquez and anyone else not face down in a Double Croissanwich), that he wants to be seen on TV or be close to political power. It’s that he likens The President of the United States to The Torah, the word of God that has guided the Jewish people for lo these thousands of years.

A Bronx kid like Engel would undoubtedly have clamored past the Yiddishe dowagers and delicatessen owners to kiss the Torah each time it came down the synagogue aisle on Sabbath or holy days of his youth. Eventually, the smart-as-a-whip (but not The Whip — that’s Uncle Steny) future politician would have realized an aisle seat GUARANTEED Torah access. And as his child’s belief in God morphed into a grown up belief in democracy, his feelings for The Word would — as any shrink will tell you — be transferred to the human representative of an American’s dreams and desires. “Ladies and Gentleman, The President of the United States.”

I swear I saw Eliot kissing a book and touching it to the president’s sleeve in the aisle before the SOTU address. You can probably find it at c-span.org or YouTube.

Or underneath the mistletoe.

Last night.