After watching the State of the Union address, Peggy Noonan penned an eloquent column on the distance between Washington, D.C., and the country it dominates.

If you read nothing else today, please read Peggy’s column. The former Reagan speechwriter opens with a gemlike bit of prose:

The State of the Union was a spectacle of delusion and self-congratulation in which a Congress nobody likes rose to cheer a president nobody really likes. It marked the continued degeneration of a great and useful tradition. Viewership was down, to the lowest level since 2000.

This year's innovation was the Parade of Hacks. It used to be the networks only showed the president walking down the aisle after his presence was dramatically announced. Now every cabinet-level officeholder marches in, shaking hands and high-fiving with breathless congressmen. And why not?

No matter how bland and banal they may look, they do have the power to destroy your life—to declare the house you just built as in violation of EPA wetland regulations, to pull your kid's school placement, to define your medical coverage out of existence. So by all means attention must be paid and faces seen.

Peggy lists some of the things that are happening now that once would not have happened previously: a government defying religious liberty and taking on an order of Catholic nuns who have done nothing more offensive than taking care of the indigent elderly; disadvantaged children in Louisiana being deprived of a chance for a better education by government decree, and conservatives being harassed by a powerful government agency (the IRS) because of their political philosophy.

Washington sees the disaffection. They read the polls, they know.

They call it rage. But it feels more like grief. Like the loss of something you never thought you'd lose, your sense of your country and your place in it, your rights in it.