This is a presidential speech to Congress on a hot Washington evening.
On the way I was on my way home from Capitol Hill with police and soldiers, a group of picnickers, a jogger or two, and a few congressional staff. Some high security fencing was a deadly reminder of the January 6 uprising.
I went to a congressional office building, went through an airport-style metal detector, walked two empty corridors, took a lift to the basement, and then showed evidence of a corona virus test taken Monday. I was given a watch and a ticket, passed through another metal detector, and walked to the House of Representatives via an underground tunnel.
House Press Gallery, usually hard to come by desk space with many reporters, is very quiet and low-key tonight and everyone is wearing a mask.
Instead of the usual 1,600 union-style addresses in the House room, only 200 guests were allowed (except almost all) at this time because of the Corona virus protection restrictions. Some tickets were decided on a first-come, first-served basis by lottery. Only Chief Justice John Roberts will be a member of the Supreme Court.
There is no need for a “designated survivor” at this time. It usually stays in a safe place if a senior official attacks the disaster council and wipes out the president, vice president and cabinet.
Soon we will be filed into the House Room, where guns were drawn on January 6 to protect members from the mob. Like his inauguration event, Biden will speak to onlookers (and applause) at home: he is good at talking closely with the TV camera, but now he has to command a cavernous room.
My high place would allow me to see some great people in the room, but it would deny me a glimpse into the historical table of two women, Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who sit behind Biden. Will have to replay on TV.