Kathryn Lopez

On this issue, Dr. Alveda King, director of African-American outreach for Priests for Life and niece of Martin Luther King Jr., believes that President Obama is "missing an opportunity." King told me last year: "The president has a defining moment before him. The nation has become pro-life. It's evident. This is a tide. This is a time. It's a conversation of energy. And the energy is with life."

Life and liberty: these are central planks in the American dream.

"Civil rights secure individual liberty and equal opportunity, protecting all of us against government encroachment upon our lives and our beliefs," former Ohio secretary of state Kenneth Blackwell points out. "If Republicans rally Americans around issues like the protection of the unborn, school choice, and religious liberty, as principled conservatives, then they will carry the civil-rights banner into the future."

None of this is foreign to the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., who said, in his historic speech: "Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God's children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood."

Santorum, Alveda King and Boehner are working to make those noble goals lived reality. And if the president wants to take the lead in restoring school choice to D.C. and have an honest national conversation about the consequences of abortion for the black community, there is more than one conservative who would be overjoyed by his leadership. They may not be holding their breath waiting for it, but they'd welcome it, encourage it, and get to work.

Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.