President Bush should be congratulated just for showing up at the Capitol last night and resisting the temptation to skip the State of the Union address. But before Republicans who are mad at him, Democrats who are out to get him and the public that largely doesn't approve of him either, Bush listed all those proposals he knows the Congress has no intention of passing. He did what had to be done, but he also did something that did not have to be done, and he did it generously and gracefully — Bush gave House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) her moment.

Beyond that we don't know how much people were listening, but there sure was a lot to see. DID YOU NOTICE:

1) that Vice President Cheney was awfully smiley? Surely the news from the Libby trial that the prosecution claims he was more deeply involved in the CIA leak scandal was something to chuckle about. Make no mistake: When the going gets grim, Dick gets smiley.

2) Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) may be one of the most liberal members of Congress but she STILL waits hours to get an aisle seat so that she can grab President Bush on his way in to the chamber, then scores his autograph on her program as he departs. We know they are not dear friends from Texas, OK?

3) Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) was sitting with Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and they were in front of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) After the very unflattering photo on the cover of the Weekly Standard recently where she is slumped in her committee chair reading the Iraq Study Group report, Clinton knew to sit up straight and look perky the ENTIRE time, because now that she announced her presidential intentions in time to upstage Bush at the SOTU there would be many a print photo made from those television shots.

4) After the speech as they scrambled to television appearances, Clinton went before Obama in their back-to-back interviews with Charlie Gibson on ABC News at the Russell balcony. They were both macho and coatless in the freezing cold while Charlie donned a coat, and they both pronounced "casualties" like they are from Illinois, but Clinton was better. She went into wonky-filibuster mode and could not get the sentences out fast enough about why the Iraq strategy had failed and her recent trip ... she got "surplus convoys" in there too. Go, girl.

5) the good news is that Bush's slow political death has taken no toll on his wife. Go to the videotape — as he plummets in the polls she loses years off her face. Laura Bush has never looked more serene or more radiant.

All of this is worth noticing.