A moment of silence, if you will, for Deval Patrick. Setting aside the rather imperfect bill passed by imperfect legislators to fill Teddy Kennedy’s Senate seat, Governor Patrick is taking a sizable political chance in order to maximize the chance that health care reform will pass.

It’s not just that he’s associating himself with a bill that’s not all that popular in his home state. Yeah, Republicans are savoring the idea of hanging this sucker around his neck in 2010. The public glee is all about Patrick appointing Dukakis; make no mistake, however. If Paul Kirk is appointed, that’s going to be just as useful from a Republican standpoint. “Duval Patrick, doing the work of the Kennedys.” Raw meat for the Republican base.

So he’s got that to worry about. And he’s got Democrats who dislike the way the law was changed. But he’s also sitting in the middle of a party fight: does he go along with the rather blatant Kennedy push for Paul Kirk, or does he appoint Dukakis and make some of his key supporters happy, or does he choose someone else and make nobody happy?

(By the way — not smooth, oh Kennedy clan. Backing Patrick into a corner like that was unkind. The Dukakis camp didn’t fight their battle in the media.)

He could have avoided this. He’d have made Obama mad, and he’d have hurt health care reform, but he could have hidden behind the emergency clause and let 90 days pass. He maybe could have made life easier on his legislature and avoided passage of the bill entirely. Lots of options.

So when he makes his announcement at 11 AM today, I’ll have a moment of sympathy for the guy. None of this has been at all easy on him, and I think it’ll be the final straw on the back of his reelection campaign. I appreciate his decision to make sure the Democratic Party has another vote in the Senate.