President Obama's second inaugural address won't be remembered for stirring lines, but then its purpose seemed to be more political than inspirational. Mr. Obama was laying down a marker that he has no intention of letting debt or deficits or lagging economic growth slow his plans for activist, expansive government.
Inaugurals usually include calls for national unity and appeals to our founding principles, which is part of their charm. With the election long over, swearing in a President is a moment for celebrating larger national purposes. But Mr. Obama's speech was notable for invoking the founding principles less to unify than to justify what he called "collective action." The President borrowed the Constitution's opening words of "we the people" numerous times, but his main theme was that the people are fundamentally defined through government action, and his government is here to help you.