When the Perfect and the Good Are Political Enemies

In politics the perfect is often the enemy of the good.

Sen. Patrick Leahy

Sen. Patrick Leahy

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Cynics (or, depending on your point of view, realists) argued that the whole thing was a "kabuki" exercise – that Leahy never planned to push the issue. But that's beside the point: It is a core issue for Democrats; so, whether the decision to pull the amendment was made this week or earlier, the key thing is the decision was made to move forward rather than getting stuck.

News of the immigration bill advancing was overshadowed by the Oklahoma tornado disaster and the ongoing three-ring scandal circus unfolding on the Hill. Indeed the congressional focus on Benghazi, the IRS scandal and the Justice Department's prying into reporters' phone records and emails itself presents a meta-version of the perfect-versus-good dilemma. Even as congressional leaders, mindful of trying to avoid the investigations appearing to be partisan truffle hunts, counsel caution, some GOP lawmakers and conservative commentators utter things the party's base longs to hear, like "impeachment."

[Read the U.S. News Debate: Should the Senate Pass the Gang of 8's Immigration Bill?]

There was some irony, then, when some conservative media outlets started warning this week that the right's directing all available attention to scandals, could give what they see as an odious immigration bill cover to sail through the Senate unnoticed (which seems a fairly stunning indictment of the public for being unable to walk and chew gum at the same time).

Were that the case, I suppose, the right's perfect (Obama scandal monomania) would actually work in concert with the nation's good (immigration reform).

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