Judis rightly agrees with our NLT experts that the president’s speech was a hodgepodge of abstract assertions and very short on real arguments. It was also fairly lame as poetry. But I have to add it praised American inventiveness and imagination, hard work, and the old and true virtues, including loyalty, patriotism, and responsiblity. It was Lincolnian in its claim that we have erred by straying from the genuine idealism of our Founding. And there’s nothing wrong in repeating that our nation is devoted to equality, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and greatness that’s earned. These principles and these virtues have been at the foundation of the common, multi- or transcultural purposes that have animated the better part of our history. The speech was also largely free of the vices associated with progressivism and paternalism. When it referred to progress, it wasn’t about bigger and bigger government, but about the flourishing of free men and women--and so about the overcoming of slavery, segregration, and so forth. It was a good, not great, speech, but a worthy enough performance for our first black president.