President Obama today gave the country a clarifying moment. We may not have gotten to know Mr. Obama, the man, better today, but we certainly got to know him the politician better. His inaugural speech should put to rest for all time the notion, much favored by his admirers in the press, that he is a centrist. He is not.
He looked out to his west today across our country still suffering the aftereffects of a severe recession and said only that a recovery had begun. And his prescription for accelerating that anemic recovery? None was heard.
He barely mentioned the national debt -- up about 60 percent since he took office -- and then only as prelude to defending the three great drivers of that debt, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
He did call it, quote, "fiction" that all society's ills could be cured through government alone, but that was just a prelude to the wonders of collective action, by which he unmistakably meant government action -- on gay rights, climate change, voter suppression, immigration reform and, obliquely, gun control.
Only by saying he would support the spread of democracy worldwide, which is the George W. Bush freedom agenda, and by failing to swear off the use of drone attacks did he say anything likely to disappoint his base on the left.
The president clearly is a man of the left. And after today, his few departures from its orthodoxy should fool no one.