If you wanted an up-close view of just how polarized American politics are in 2012, the U.S. Capitol's Statuary Hall was the place to be on Tuesday night.
In a State of the Union tradition, as soon as the president's speech ended, congressional Republicans and Democrats flooded into the crowded hall, where a semi-circle of television cameras lined the walls. Scores of reporters jockeyed for position.
The reactions of Republicans and Democrats to the speech made for a stark contrast. Holding court in the same confined space, they gave sharply different reviews of the speech.
Asked about President Obama's announcement of a new unit to investigate mortgage abuses, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, dismissed it as "more czardom."
Nearby, Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the same committee, gave a decidedly different answer. "I think that's good, because a lot of the American public want to make sure that people who fraudulently dealt with homeowners are punished," he said. "We hear that all the time in our committee. And I hear it from my constituents."
A few steps away, Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., was decrying the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
"That is a creation of another agency with the Department of Treasury and the Federal Reserve that's out of the reach really of Congress," he said. "And what they can do is create a situation where banks continue to not make consumer loans, and they don't issue credit cards."