You can dress ‘em up.

But you can’t take ‘em out.

Who? Why the honorable members of the United States Congress. That’s who.

Pope Francis is coming to town, and America’s elected officials are as agog as the rest of us.

For the first time in a long time, I get where Congress is coming from. I don’t know if I could survive the excitement of being in the same room as the Pope. I might cry. I might shake and shout. I might keel over in a dead faint. But could anyone trust me to not reach out and touch him?

Yes. Yes, they could. Reach out and touch the Pope? Uh-huh. Not me. I’m a full-fledged member of the Pope Francis Old Women’s Groupie Society. But I’m not the traditional kind of groupie who crashes through barricades to throw myself in his arms. I’m more the stand there and cry like a baby type.

It appears that several members of Congress are also members of the Pope Francis Groupie Society; so much so that Congressional leadership is going full-court press to make them behave during the Pope’s address to the joint session and afterwards. Not only are members of the leadership working surveillance of their colleagues to make sure that none of them reach out and grab the Holy Father like a teen-aged girl grasping for a rock star, they also plan to lock the members in the chamber for a while so that they can’t get out and track the Pope down afterwards.

Members have been cautioned that partisan applause for something Pope Francis might say that they feel agrees with their politics is also not allowed.

Did you get that? Members of Congress are being forbidden from engaging in aggressive applauding at their colleagues on the other side of the aisle during a joint session!

You do know that all that applauding when a speaker says something they like is aimed at each other, don’t you? It’s Politics 101, which is, as so often happens, Grade School Playground 101. They’re not applauding the speaker, and they certainly are not putting on a show for We the People. They’re pounding their hands together to say “Take that, you creep!” to the other members of Congress in the opposite political party. They are applauding at each other.

Now, here they are with a full-on spokesperson for one-seventh of the world’s population who also happens to be the Vicar of Christ. And they can’t “that that, you creep” applaud at one another when he says something they can twist around to support their politics. Will they live? 

I’ll wait and see if the leadership actually achieves this miracle. I mean, they can lecture and threaten, bribe and bamboozle, but once Pope Francis starts talking, what’re they gonna do to keep those hands from coming together in pep rally applause? This is like telling a cat not to stretch out on the keyboard when you’re trying to type. It’s gonna take more than the usual discipline to get it done.

I understand the excitement. I’m feeling it myself. I love me some Pope Francis.

It’s going to be great, watching Pope Francis address a joint session of Congress. The added attraction of watching real-live politicians try to behave like regular people is a big, fat cherry, sitting on top.

You can dress ‘em up. But can you take ‘em out?

That remains to be seen.