Consistency is good.

But sometimes practicality is better.

That's a thought Utah Senate President Michael Waddoups and others on the Legislature's Executive Appropriations Committee need to contemplate. The committee gave a thumbs down to a grant from the federal government in recent days that provides "life and death" drugs to Utahns with HIV/AIDS-related problems.

Waddoups said turning his back on the grant should not be read as "intending harm" to people.

But the only other way to read his position is as a principled stand against federally funded health care — a stand that does, indeed, cause great harm.

To keep states from sliding down the slippery slope of national health care, Waddoups has — in effect — put many Utah citizens on a slippery slope to the grave.

Years ago, many recall, President Ronald Reagan declared that ketchup should be considered a "vegetable" in school lunch programs. His intent was to trim government subsidies and try to rein in a bloated bureaucracy. He was standing on principle. But the move backfired.

Today, no one would consider Reagan an evil soul willing to sacrifice the health of American schoolchildren in the name political consistency. But that was how his stance played out in the public arena.

Likewise, the stance of Waddoups and others should not be construed as mean-spirited. But — alas for them — that is how it will be played out.

Sometimes, image speaks louder than substance.

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By refusing to allow life-saving medicine to reach a segment of the population, the Executive Appropriations Committee has set itself up as an iron-fisted, self-interested entity — not unlike hapless old Mr. Potter in the film "It's a Wonderful Life." All it will take is one sympathetic sufferer coming forward in despair to soften the hearts of citizens and lead them to see Waddoups and others as heartless.

The time to re-address the issue is now. From here on, it will simply fester.

Unless the federal "Ryan White" grant — which historically totals about $4 million — is given the green light, lawmakers will end up with egg on their faces once again. And in a year when the faces of many legislators already look like Denver omelettes, nobody wants to see that.