Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Muppet Show

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

This is State Sen. Tim Jennings’, (D) Chavez County, nameplate in the back row of the Senate chambers.

Today, he will be moving his seat to the front row after he is formally elected to be the Senate President Pro Tempore. He replaces Sen. Ben Altamirano, who died Dec 27.

Jennings has the backing of the Republican side of the Senate and at least five Democrats, according to an insider close to the legislative process. Jennings has a reputation of being outspoken, is considered to be no friend of the Governor, hence the support of the Republicans, and is assured of election to the Democratic Party controlled leadership post.

So what’s wrong with this picture?

This is Jennings, right, in Roswell Sept. 5, 2007, talking with two State Police Officers assigned to the Governor’s security detail. They were present for the inaugural jet service to and from Dallas by American Eagle, a feeder division of American Airlines.

I was in Santa Fe Monday, helping deliver copies of the latest Capitol Report New Mexico magazine.

On the way, we came upon a rare sight; a State Legislator driving the speed limit to the Capitol. Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton, (D) Bernalillo County, was, however, talking on her cellular phone as she entered the city limits of Santa Fe. Darn, local laws!

One of the staff people in the elevator asked if we were ready for the session? The 30-day, off-year session starts at noon, today with Gov. Bill Richardson’s State of the State opening address.

“Is anybody ever ready for the beginning of the session?” I responded. Maybe the tourists are, like these men taking pictures of each other in front of the Capitol.

For about a week, as I was thinking of the start of the session, an old television tune kept running through my head. Jim Henson and Sam Pottle wrote the Muppet Show Theme Song.

“It's time to play the music
It's time to light the lights
It's time to meet the Muppets on the Muppet Show tonight.”

The chambers are ready; the small United States and New Mexico State flags are set out on the members’ desks. Sergeants at arms were being briefed.

“It's time to put on makeup
It's time to dress up right
It's time to raise the curtain on the Muppet Show tonight.”

Those who read me regularly know, that I am a stickler for the presentation of the flag. The flag code doesn’t address how to present flags on a desk. When flags are displayed behind a speaker, the American flag is to be to the left, when the audience looks at the speaker. When the flags are in front of the speaker, the American flag is to be to the audience’ right.

“Why do we always come here
I guess we'll never know
It's like a kind of torture
To have to watch the show”

What has me confused is that in the Senate, as displayed by the Jennings desk picture above, the nation’s flag is on the left while facing it.

In the House, the flag is on the right.

“And now let's get things started
Why don't you get things started
It's time to get things started
On the most sensational
This is what we call the Muppet Show”

Correction: I misidentified Rep. Williams Stapleton, as Jane E. Powdrell-Culbert. My apologies to Powdrell-Culbert and to my readers.

No comments: