The speech should debunk two myths about Mr. Obama and his presidency, both trumpeted by liberal commentators and Democratic activists. One is that the president is really a pragmatist and a centrist. Not so. Only an ideologically committed liberal could have delivered the address that Mr. Obama did.

The other myth is that Mr. Obama is eager to compromise with Republicans but has faced unprecedented obstructionism on their part. The speech told a different tale. It showed the president bent on pursuing an agenda with few if any sweeteners for Republicans. …

If there is a model for Mr. Obama’s speech, it is FDR’s famous inaugural address in 1937, when he unabashedly extolled government. “Democratic government has the innate capacity to protect its people against disasters once considered inevitable, to solve problems once considered unsolvable,” FDR declared. Mr. Obama was less explicit, but his emphasis was on the virtues of government. …

A hardy perennial of Obama speeches is an expression of wariness about government. “We have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society’s ills can be cured through government alone,” he said in his inaugural address. But the speech contradicted this claim, since practically all the solutions it stressed were government ones.