Michael Barone

Similarly, pollster Scott Rasmussen reports that only 34 percent of Americans say passing a Democratic health care bill is better than passing nothing, while 57 percent say it's better to pass no health care bill at all. That's also the opinion of Dr. Howard Dean, former Democratic national chairman, and the left-wing MSNBC pundit Keith Olbermann.

There is still some chance that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid can corral 60 Democratic votes for whatever health care bill he unveils. But it's looking increasingly unlikely -- and increasingly politically suicidal for some of those 60 Senate Democrats.

Bill Clinton has told those Democrats that they'd be better off politically passing something rather than nothing. But his own job rating swelled only after his health care proposals failed to pass.

"What's really exceptional at this stage of Obama's presidency," writes Andrew Kohut, the Pew Research Center's respected pollster, "is the extent to which the public has moved in a conservative direction on a range of issues. These trends have emanated as much from the middle of the electorate as from the highly energized conservative right. Even more notable, however, is the extent to which liberals appear to be dozing as the country has shifted on both economic and social issues."

From which we can draw two conclusions. One is that economic distress does not move Americans to support more government. Rasmussen reports that 66 percent of Americans favor smaller government with fewer services and only 22 percent favor more services and higher taxes.

The second is that Barack Obama's persuasive powers are surprisingly weak. His advocacy seems to have moved Americans in the opposite of the intended direction.

Obama first came to national attention in 2004 by promising to heal partisan, ideological and racial divisions. Like the other two Democratic presidents elected in the last 40 years, he campaigned in the center and started off governing on the left. In Copenhagen and on Capitol Hill, we are seeing the results. Splat.

Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM