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When John Boehner just sat there

President Obama’s State of the Union speech showed that the progressive energy of his second inaugural address wasn’t just a man getting carried away by the moment. On Tuesday night, he outlined an ambitious second-term agenda: a commitment to universal preschool, raising the federal minimum wage, executive action on climate change, a strong jobs agenda, easing barriers to voting, tough new gun laws. The president won’t get everything he’s asking for, not even most of it, and some of the details of what he wants and how he’ll achieve it were sketchy, but it was rewarding to see him ask.

And while Obama talked deficit reduction early in the speech, it was much less detailed and central than in most of his other big national speeches. “Deficit reduction alone is not an economic plan,” he said, stating what should be obvious, but often isn’t inside the Beltway. He even went partway toward greater accountability on his controversial drone program – although he didn’t use the word "drones" – promising to work with Congress on oversight and transparency. Not enough, but a start.

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