There are certain cliches that can get really really irritating. It's a condition called Platitudinous Badditudinous Attitudinous and it flares up each and every time someone says "We shouldn't make the perfect the enemy of the good". Some sort of ridicule is in order, like maybe a "Kick me" sign.
We usually hear it these days from those trying to gut health care reform, leaving an almost empty shell. Offender also include or Democratic leaders who are desperately trying to avoid the embarrassment of outright defeat which would probably devastate their party to say nothing of its President.
So they are bargaining away, trying to protect themselves by caving in to each and every special interest group but one, the American people. In particular, they are frittering away the changes that would force the insurance companies to act responsibly.
As we approach the final days after a year of false hopes and bitter debate we find the Senate bargainers all too willing to jettison the best chances to create competition in the industry, particularly the Public Option.
It was just a few days ago that they concocted a weak weak alternative...a skeletal national alternative administered by the Office of Personnel. It pretends to be like the relatively good deal members of Congress and federal employees get.
The second part of the brew was an opportunity for 55 and over pre-retirees to buy into Medicare. It was flawed, but it was something.
Apparently it was too much for the insurance companies. But wait. Joe Lieberman is prancing in singing "Here I Come to Save the Day", promising his insurance buddies that he'll sink any legislation with the Medicare buy-in so they can continue to be the only game in town.
In fairness, while Republicans are mostly a solid wall of opposition, Democrats are running in every direction. Majority Leader Harry Reid is trying to maintain a delicate balance to attract the 60 votes necessary to break a filibuster. So he is tip toeing on a high wire which is not the best place to make a stand.
Still, that doesn't mean he should simply push off the parts that matter. The question is not only whether anything will pass at all, but whether what does would mean anything or merely be "Reform" in form only, leaving the President to declare victory and sign a bill that is a whole lot of nothing.
If they were being honest, what the apologists should be saying then really would be "We shouldn't make the meaningful the enemy of the face saving".