Michael Barone
Recommend this article

That's one view. Roman Catholic bishops and leaders of Catholic institutions feel that such services are sinful and refuse to provide them. They cite the Constitution's guarantee of free exercise of religion, while the other side relies on what courts have called "emanations" and "penumbras" radiating from constitutional texts.

The political point is that, as polling suggests, most Americans don't like government forcing people to violate their religious convictions. That's in line with tradition in a country that exempted those with religiously based conscientious objections from military service in a war in which more than 400,000 Americans were killed.

The third issue is the Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport oil produced from tar sands in Canada to United States refineries and create thousands of jobs in the process.

Earlier this year, Susie Buell Tompkins, John Kerry's fourth-biggest money-raiser in 2004, picketed outside an Obama fundraiser at San Francisco's W Hotel to protest the pipeline. She wanted Obama's State Department to block it because she thinks tar sands production hurts the environment and the planet.

Our neighbors the Canadians, who are not unconcerned about the environment themselves, disagree. The pipeline's promoters say it would produce 20,000 American jobs and would tend to lower U.S. gas prices.

Obama came out on Tompkins' side and blocked the pipeline.

If the same-sex marriage reversal seems somewhat risky politically and the contraception mandate considerably riskier, the Keystone pipeline decision seems downright foolish politically. Voters tend to favor it by two-to-one margins -- and if they're not aware of it, the Republicans (and maybe the pro-pipeline unions) will make sure they are.

When given a chance to draw new boundaries of his state Senate district in 2002, Obama made sure to include Chicago's richest lakefront neighborhood. He's been working hard to court rich liberal contributors ever since.

The question is, is he listening to anyone else?

Recommend this article

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