Kathleen Parker

He's the melting pot's pajamas. With roots in Africa, Indonesia and the Midwest, he's half-black, half-white; half-Muslim, half-Christian, by birth if not in practice. Part Horatio Alger, Bobby Kennedy and Harry Belafonte, he's an American deus ex machina. Black enough for blacks -- white enough for whites -- he's the bowl of porridge that's juuuuuuust right.

But does he habla espanol?

Even his approach to issues is neither black nor white, but something in between. He's a Democrat, of course, and, as U.S. senator, has voted 97 percent of the time with his party. At some point his worshipers will have to apply objective standards to his positions.

But he's also an implementarian. When it comes to policy, his central question seems to be: Does it work?

While speaking recently to an evangelical audience gathered in Pastor Rick ``The Purpose Driven Life'' Warren's megachurch -- a water-parting event in itself -- Obama said that ``abstinence and fidelity, although the ideal, may not always be the reality. ... If condoms and potentially things like microbicides can prevent millions of deaths, then they should be made more widely available.'' He received a standing ovation.

If Obama seems too good to be true, he can't be blamed. He has been fashioned by the people's wishes into something of a savior. Like the face of Jesus that appears in a slice of pizza, he's in part an invention of need, his immense popularity testament to the despair many feel from years of bitter partisanship and a war without end.

Can he be the one to salvage this wreck?

The world is a dangerous place for those in whom much hope is invested, and that's a heap of expectation piled on Obama's plate. If he decides to make a run, he will have his spirit tested.

May the force be with him.

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.
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