Watching on television, manners mavins gave Congress high marks for decorum at Tuesday night’s State of the Union speech, AP’s Ben Nuckols says. “Date night worked,” said Judith Martin, author of the syndicated Miss Manners column. “I take it as an expression of good will. There is a lot of sincerity in this,” agreed Johns Hopkins professor P.M. Forni, who has dedicated the past 15 years to the study of civility.

But beneath the apparent amity, it was politics as usual, Jonathan Allen says at Politico. Even as House Speak John Boehner applauded–somewhat tepidly–behind President Obama, his office was barraging reporters with critiques of the speech.

Even before the speech, legislators were wrangling over seats, reports Ryan Grim at the Huffington Post. “House members almost wrestled the staff of the Senate sergeant at arms to the ground to claim some of the seats that were claimed for the Senate,” said Rep. Brad Miller, D-N.C.

And Wednesday things were back to normal, as Democrats bitterly criticized a Republican move to end the voluntary campaign checkoff program, Pete Kasperowicz says at The Hill. Rep. Alcee Hastings D-Fla. said the bill is a “shifty attack” aimed at giving corporations an edge in campaigns, and criticized a GOP website that invites the public to vote on program cuts. “Republicans seem to think this online gimmick is an effective substitute for good governance,” Hastings said.

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