Every year, I watch with anticipation and interest the president's State of the Union address. I truly enjoy the spectacle. And it is a spectacle.

The entire political ruling class is assembled in one place. One-hundred members of the Senate, 435 members of the House, the president's Cabinet, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Supreme Court. There really is nothing that approaches this assemblage. It is truly a magnificent display of American democracy at work.


The announcement by the sergeant at arms in a booming voice — "the President of the United States" — as he enters to a standing ovation. It is all quite impressive. I never tire of all the pomp and circumstance.

But there is one discordant note. Two members of the House, Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelProgressives target Manchin, Sinema with new PAC State Department sets up new bureau for cybersecurity and emerging technologies How Congress dismissed women's empowerment MORE (D-N.Y.) and Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson LeeHouse Judiciary split on how to address domestic extremism The Hill's Morning Report - Democrats ready mammoth relief bill for 10-day sprint House subcommittee debates reparations bill for Black Americans MORE (D-Texas) distinguish themselves in a very undistinguished way. They both seem to be consumed with making sure every year they are prominently situated on the aisle. When the president enters the chamber, they eagerly seek his attention and seem desperate for some modicum of presidential recognition.

It doesn't make any difference what party the president belongs to. They are there and unmovable. Engel was first elected in 1988; Jackson Lee in 1994. After all these years, this seems to me their signature career trait. What, I ask, is their motivation? Are they so desperate for the TV coverage that they will belittle themselves year after year? Is this the sum of what they want to be known for? Is this their legislative legacy? Do they really think their constituents back home value or appreciate this exercise?

It is said that Engel actually arrives at his desired spot at 8:30 in the morning to make sure he will not be displaced.

Jackson Lee is always the hugger. This, I surmise, is not always out of genuine affection but a strategy to keep the camera on her for additional time.

Look — both Engel and Jackson Lee, I'm sure, have better things to do and would like to be remembered for more substantive accomplishments than camera hogging. Next year, why don't they have a little talk to themselves and take a pass and be, for once, nowhere in sight?

Plotkin is a political analyst, a contributor to the BBC on American politics and a columnist for The Georgetowner.