Even to a former Reagan administration member and conservative GOP statesman who speaks out against issues ranging from abortion to gay marriage, Barack Obama represents hope.

Doug Kmiec will be part of the mass of humanity on the National Mall for Tuesday’s inauguration, likely in an overcoat, with tears in his eyes. The constitutional law professor with the Malibu tan will be with Obama earlier, too, at a private prayer service in an unnamed church. After the swearing in and the parade, he expects to be dancing poorly with his wife, Carol, at an inaugural ball.

The question is why.