Collins vs. Brooks
You don't usually get this much real talk in the conversations between Gail Collins and David Brooks. Here's Collins describing her colleague's M.O.
You’re a man of good will with a fatal attraction to tidy programs. I admit it’s a very powerful approach. All during that health care debate, whenever things got impossible you could always say: “What I think they should do is pass the Wyden-Bennett Reform Plan,” and everybody would shut up and slink home to look it up on Google.
It’s a more elegant version of the Bipartisan Study Commission. Which, by the way, the Republicans recently filibustered.
We're all vulnerable to this tendency. Skeptics of messy cap-and-trade legislation get to advocate elegant carbon taxes that wouldn't survive two seconds in the legislative process. Critics of the messy health-care reform bill get to call for Wyden-Bennett or single-payer despite the absence of any evidence that either policy is remotely achievable. Folks frustrated by the budget get to look at Paul Ryan's fantastical alternative and declare it the path forward.
It would be very annoying to go to a restaurant if people insisted on ordering the dish they wanted most in the world, rather than most on the menu. The problem, of course, is that American politics doesn't offer menus, and the politicians aren't very honest about what's achievable ("I'm sorry, monsieur, but the chef does not do nationalization"). Plus, however slim the likelihood of perfect policies is, they have absolutely no chance if no one advocates for them. But for all that, there's a difference between trying to push policy in a more perfect direction and letting perfection become your excuse for never passing any policy.
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