After watching the Oprah and Obama spectacular in Iowa yesterday (live on C-SPAN), Tim, a Bosque Boys reader, wrote:

"He was loud, talked about 'Change' and at least one person in the audience fainted. What I saw was a lot of 'Look at me I am charismatic,' but not a lot of substance. I compare that with Mitt Romney's speech, and they are on two different levels. Mitt Romney talked about the substance of America, Obama shouted about change. I think Obama is drawing a lot more people to him, but many of those people may not really be able to give a good reason why."

Well reported, Tim. This observation, for the most part, squares with what I saw. I am more impressed with Obama, and less taken with Romney, but, in essence, Tim's analysis is spot-on.

Undoubtedly, Obama has won the coveted mantle of "the agent of change." Conventional wisdom focuses on this element as the key to winning--but I have asked before: "Do Americans Really Want Change in 2008?" I am not convinced we really do this time around. At least, the changes we seem to want are not of the revolutionary variety.

Obama's appeal is not rooted in dynamic proposals that set him apart from other contenders. In truth, Obama doesn't say anything different than any of the other Democratic candidates. He promises a compassionate administration and a society in which all God's children are cared for by a benevolent entity--the federal government.

Having said that, the freshman senator offers something entirely different. What makes Obama unique is his ability to cast himself as a liberal messiah.

Knee deep in the Advent season, Oprah Winfrey asked (and answered): "Is he the One?" "Yes!" Oprah assured us. This is the one on whom we have hoped. This is the one for whom we have been waiting. The long period of anticipation is over. The moment has arrived. Joy to the World! Peace on Earth! Goodwill toward Men!

And while his rhetoric is boilerplate, the real danger in Obama is that he may actually mean what he says. Why my alarm? He is a uniquely magnetically charismatic candidate. He can win the general election in November--and win in a big way, painting the map blue. His success will likely hinge on his personality and gifts--but he will then interpret his victory as a mandate for "change."

Many Hillary detractors castigate her as a socialist. Maybe that characterization fit during her idealistic young adult years during the heady atmosphere of the early 1970s. But Mrs. Clinton's journey--which began as the daughter of a suburban Chicago Republican--and now finds her playing the role of a center-left, establishment senator from New York, places her squarely in the "status quo" block of American politics. For a lot of reasons (political and personal), Hillary's America will never be any more radical than Bill's America.

On the other hand, Barack's America may very well mean a return to a pre-Ronald Reagan sensibility and an unabashed neo-liberalism. Are we ready for that? Can we survive that?