Menus Subscribe Search

Follow us


Rounding Up the Top Hogs of the State of the Union

• February 12, 2013 • 4:10 PM

Aisle Hog (noun): A person who,at the annual State of the Union address, sits as close as possible to the president’s walkway and snatches a 5-second brush with the POTUS himself, often waiting ten hours or more for the chance.

In 2011 Salon published its ranking of the top five Congressional aisle hogs, diving into C-Span’s video archive of the last 10 State of the Unions and immortalizing the results in this clip.  At the time, the elite seat snatchers were: Dale Kildee (D-Mich.), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), Eliot Engel (D-NY), and Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-11). Closely following–though Salon acknowledged that identifying aisle hogs is an inexact science- were Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Al Green (D-Texas) and Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio).

The SOTU is a special opportunity for low-ranking legislators to grab a moment with the president, with the bonus prize of being seen on national television. Top aisle hog Engel told The Washington Post that he used his moment with former President George W. Bush to encourage him to stand by Israel; Kildee believed the moment helped raise his profile with constituents.

Constituents who support the president, yes. Those of the opposing party, probably not so much. Shmidt, featured on the runner-up list, lost her primary to fellow Republican Brad Wenstrup, who highlighted her moment with Obama in his campaign advertisements.

“There’s someone kissing the president, who’s that?” asks a phony radio host.

“Looks like Congresswoman Jean Schmidt!”

“Is she a Democrat? She seems very close with the president.”

Shmidt is not the only aisle hog to be out of the running for this year’s seats. Kucinich lost his seat, Kildee retired and Jackson resigned due to fraud allegations. Who will be the new top hogs?

It’s not a universal ambition. Some members of Congress say they simply don’t have the time (or don’t want to spend the time) to wait ten to 12 hours for the hot seats. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) has stated, “I don’t have eight hours to waste. If you are doing this job well, every minute should be spent going to briefings, researching, and figuring out how to move ahead.” Meanwhile, Majority Whip Rep. Kevin Mcarthy (R- Calif.) announced to those looking to cheat the long wait that hats and placards won’t cut it as seat-savers.

We’ll see tonight who spent the hours bidding their time in line with Words with Friends and cookies (a perk reported by Kildee.) We at home can’t share the success felt by the squatters, but at least we can enjoy the president’s remarks with the casualness and comforts of home. A drink every time John Boehner shows visible discomfort, anyone?

Sarah Sloat
Sarah Sloat is an editorial fellow with Pacific Standard. She was previously selected as an intern for the Sara Miller McCune Endowed Internship and Public Service Program and has studied abroad in both Argentina and the U.K. Sarah has recently graduated from the University of California-Santa Barbara with a degree in Global and International Studies. Follow her on Twitter @sarahshmee.

More From Sarah Sloat

A weekly roundup of the best of Pacific Standard and PSmag.com, delivered straight to your inbox.

Recent Posts

October 24 • 4:00 PM

We Need to Normalize Drug Use in Our Society

After the disastrous misconceptions of the 20th century, we’re returning to the idea that drugs are an ordinary part of life experience and no more cause addiction than do other behaviors. This is rational and welcome.


October 24 • 2:00 PM

A Letter to the Next Attorney General: Fix Presidential Pardons

More than two years ago, a series showed that white applicants were far more likely to receive clemency than comparable applicants who were black. Since then, the government has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a study, but the pardons system remains unchanged.


October 24 • 12:00 PM

What Makes You So Smart, Middle School Math Teacher?

Noah Davis talks to Vern Williams about what makes middle school—yes, middle school—so great.


October 24 • 10:00 AM

Why DNA Is One of Humanity’s Greatest Inventions

How we’ve co-opted our genetic material to change our world.


October 24 • 8:00 AM

What Do Clowns Think of Clowns?

Three major players weigh in on the current state of the clown.


October 24 • 7:13 AM

There Is No Surge in Illegal Immigration

The overall rate of illegal immigration has actually decreased significantly in the last 10 years. The time is ripe for immigration reform.


October 24 • 6:15 AM

Politicians Really Aren’t Better Decision Makers

Politicians took part in a classic choice experiment but failed to do better than the rest of us.


October 24 • 5:00 AM

Why We Gossip: It’s Really All About Ourselves

New research from the Netherlands finds stories we hear about others help us determine how we’re doing.


October 24 • 2:00 AM

Congratulations, Your City Is Dying!

Don’t take population numbers at face value.


October 23 • 4:00 PM

Of Course Marijuana Addiction Exists

The polarized legalization debate leads to exaggerated claims and denials about pot’s potential harms. The truth lies somewhere in between.


October 23 • 2:00 PM

American Companies Are Getting Way Too Cozy With the National Security Agency

Newly released documents describe “contractual relationships” between the NSA and U.S. companies, as well as undercover operatives.


October 23 • 12:00 PM

The Man Who’s Quantifying New York City

Noah Davis talks to the proprietor of I Quant NY. His methodology: a little something called “addition.”


October 23 • 11:02 AM

Earliest High-Altitude Settlements Found in Peru

Discovery suggests humans adapted to high altitude faster than previously thought.


October 23 • 10:00 AM

The Psychology of Bribery and Corruption

An FBI agent offered up confidential information about a political operative’s enemy in exchange for cash—and they both got caught. What were they thinking?


October 23 • 8:00 AM

Ebola News Gives Me a Guilty Thrill. Am I Crazy?

What it means to feel a little excited about the prospect of a horrific event.


October 23 • 7:04 AM

Why Don’t Men Read Romance Novels?

A lot of men just don’t read fiction, and if they do, structural misogyny drives them away from the genre.


October 23 • 6:00 AM

Why Do Americans Pray?

It depends on how you ask.


October 23 • 4:00 AM

Musicians Are Better Multitaskers

New research from Canada finds trained musicians more efficiently switch from one mental task to another.


October 22 • 4:00 PM

The Last Thing the Women’s Movement Needs Is a Heroic Male Takeover

Is the United Nations’ #HeForShe campaign helping feminism?


October 22 • 2:00 PM

Turning Public Education Into Private Profits

Baker Mitchell is a politically connected North Carolina businessman who celebrates the power of the free market. Every year, millions of public education dollars flow through Mitchell’s chain of four non-profit charter schools to for-profit companies he controls.


October 22 • 12:00 PM

Will the End of a Tax Loophole Kill Off Irish Business and Force Google and Apple to Pay Up?

U.S. technology giants have constructed international offices in Dublin in order to take advantage of favorable tax policies that are now changing. But Ireland might have enough other draws to keep them there even when costs climb.


October 22 • 10:00 AM

Veterans in the Ivory Tower

Why there aren’t enough veterans at America’s top schools—and what some people are trying to do to change that.


October 22 • 8:00 AM

Our Language Prejudices Don’t Make No Sense

We should embrace the fact that there’s no single recipe for English. Making fun of people for replacing “ask” with “aks,” or for frequently using double negatives just makes you look like the unsophisticated one.


October 22 • 7:04 AM

My Politicians Are Better Looking Than Yours

A new study finds we judge the cover by the book—or at least the party.


October 22 • 6:00 AM

How We Form Our Routines

Whether it’s a morning cup of coffee or a glass of warm milk before bed, we all have our habitual processions. The way they become engrained, though, varies from person to person.


Follow us


Politicians Really Aren’t Better Decision Makers

Politicians took part in a classic choice experiment but failed to do better than the rest of us.

Earliest High-Altitude Settlements Found in Peru

Discovery suggests humans adapted to high altitude faster than previously thought.

My Politicians Are Better Looking Than Yours

A new study finds we judge the cover by the book—or at least the party.

That Cigarette Would Make a Great Water Filter

Clean out the ashtray, add some aluminum oxide, and you've (almost) got yourself a low-cost way to remove arsenic from drinking water.

Love and Hate in Israel and Palestine

Psychologists find that parties to a conflict think they're motivated by love while their enemies are motivated by hate.

The Big One

One company, Amazon, controls 67 percent of the e-book market in the United States—down from 90 percent five years ago. September/October 2014 new-big-one-5

Copyright © 2014 by Pacific Standard and The Miller-McCune Center for Research, Media, and Public Policy. All Rights Reserved.