01/29/2008 07:55 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

A Very General Note On The State Of The Union Speech

Very general. Time out from the issues of the day.

I've always noticed this about these speeches, going way back, regardless of who is in or out, regardless of decisions looming.

I am talking about the whole rigmarole that goes on before the speech starts. Those moments when the Washington players are filing in, the hand-shaking and hugging and confidential ear-whispering between bent over heads. But, above all, the expressions on their faces. The sheer thrill of being there. The sheer thrill of being important enough to be there.

They are all stoned on power.

This last time out, last night -- I saw it especially in the demeanor of Henry Paulson, Treasury Secretary. He looked like an odd-girl out who just got elected prom queen. Normally contained in manner, he was flushed and beaming from ear to ear. His eyes were saucers of delight. He couldn't believe he was there, on this historic occasion, in the company of the entire congress, the joint chiefs, the cabinet, the supreme court. The heck with the multi-millions he used to pull down at Goldman-Sachs. Here was the summit of the world -- and he was on it.

We would do well to watch them on these occasions of self-celebration. It shows a major part of what motivates them...