GOODNESS GRACIOUS. Ah, the whir of helicopters overhead, the scent of freshly baked cookies wafting through the room in which I sit tonight, a mere three blocks from the chamber from which the president is delivering his sixth State of the Union address.

The helicopters circle as a means of protection for the dignitaries there assembled; the cookies I've made as my own private celebration of the sight of the first woman Speaker of the House as she graces the big chair behind the presidential podium. They have a bittersweet character -- the cookies, that is -- appropriate to the moment.

Here is where I suppose I should remark upon the gracious manner in which President George W. Bush greeted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, but I daresay the president's fawning, whether feigned or merely finessed, rang in my ears with the soft bigotry of noblesse oblige. When the current President Bush ascended to the leadership of the free world, I don't believe he was introduced in his official capacity as somebody's son, even though he had little more to recommend him to the job. Pelosi's introduction by this president, this scion of a dynasty of mediocrity, reduced her to status of somebody's daughter.

I think I'll have another cookie.

--Adele M. Stan

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