President Obama’s second inaugural address may have been the most unabashedly progressive speech he has given as president. To date, at least. The tenor of the speech suggests that there may be more to come.

(Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

His theme was that we, as Americans, are all in this together. He gave a nod to individual initiative as one of the qualities that make the nation great. But he added, “We do not believe in this country that freedom is reserved for the lucky or happiness for the few.”

On the subject of entitlements — the nectar of the freeloading 47 percent, according to one prominent strain of Republican Party doctrine — Obama had this to say: “These things do not sap our nation, they strengthen us. They do not make this a nation of takers, they free us to take the risks that make this country great.”

I took this as notice that he wants to find ways to pay for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — not ways to cut them.

Obama also struck what sounded like uncompromising notes on the issues of immigration reform and gay rights.

Obama’s critics are fond of complaining that he doesn’t show enough leadership on vital issues. They should be careful what they wish for, because it sounds like they might get it.

Eugene Robinson writes a twice-a-week column on politics and culture, contributes to the PostPartisan blog, and hosts a weekly online chat with readers. In a three-decade career at The Post, Robinson has been city hall reporter, city editor, foreign correspondent in Buenos Aires and London, foreign editor, and assistant managing editor in charge of the paper’s Style section.
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