I never expected Obama to genuinely shift to the center, but I did expect a more significant feint in that direction than we’ve seen tonight. Sure, the president’s used patriotic language to justify his spending plans. He’s even made non-committal remarks about being willing to look at medical malpractice reform and such. Oh yes, he’s called for ROTC to return to elite campuses. But that’s about it. This is the same Obama as ever. The emphasis is almost entirely on spending, investment, call it what you will. Not only is the substance unchanged, the rhetoric hasn’t shifted much either. There’s certainly nothing here like “The era of big government is over.” If this speech is any indication, tonight’s politeness on the part of the president and his audience notwithstanding, we’re in for a battle over big versus smaller government from the get-go. I repeat: Where is the shift to the center?