This is for those in the "not a lick of difference" camp. Yes, you folks in the squishy, independent center, and you folks of the so easily disgusted left.
This is also to you relatively progressive candidates who campaigned as if — yes, 'twas not a lick of difference.
Yeah, boy, there's a difference, and we're about to dine on it.
We're going to see it in the golf-tan visage of House Speaker John Boehner, who rose to power basically by, um, well, doing nothing. Really. The guy could have been writing "Seinfeld" episodes that never aired. Now, he's on the cover of news magazines.
We're going to see one of the most marginally qualified U.S. Senate candidates ever in Kentuckyian (by way of Baylor University) Rand Paul, who at least has the right pigment to say the Civil Rights Act is obsolete.
We're going to see newcomers in Congress like Central Texas' Bill Flores — an oil company executive, natch. Ol' Bill finally made good on Republicans' take-Texas-government-hostage, hook-or-crook redrawing of districts twice with one census. Finally, that GOP boulder fell in the path of wily, hardworking, nimble 20-year veteran Chet Edwards.
We're going to see more of old comers like Rep. "Smokey Joe" Barton, he who never met a polluter from whom he wouldn't take a dollar. With the GOP the House majority again, Barton no doubt will chair the House Energy and Commerce Committee as he was doing when he invited contributors to take a seven-hour train ride from Fort Worth to San Antonio at $2,000 a head. Raised over $100,000.
You might remember Joe as the one who called it a "shakedown" when President Obama told BP it was going to pay for the oil-spill catastrophe in the Gulf.
Be prepared for people like Barton, Boehner and oil man Flores to do all they can to undermine the most far-sighted makeover ever of America's energy policies — a veritable moon shoot declared by Obama. But of course. Those initiatives undermine the very enterprises that paid so much to get these guys into power.
We recall at this moment how "not a lick of difference" served the purposes of presidential candidate George W. Bush. He convinced many in the squishy center that he was a centrist. Good one, George.
Dick Cheney took that blessing as a mandate for industry to write energy and environmental laws.
I have to take a moment here to grouse that presidential candidate Al Gore got so locked in on lock boxes and wonkery that some squishy centrists, independents and disgusted lefties actually had reason to wonder if a lick of difference distinguished he and the W.
And now we've had an election where a lot of Democrats went around trying to convince voters they were no such thing, or any thing meaningful whatever. This, though every election is won at the margins, and the only way to enthuse anyone outside your base is to explain why he or she ought to be enthused.
At least I saw one Democrat, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, win by pointing out that Tea Party darling Ken Buck was a foe of reproductive rights and in dozens of ways too far right to represent a centrist state.
Unfortunately, a lot of the time I saw progressive candidates who could have drawn out such contrasts cede language of the debate to that of the Republican front organization called the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Not a lick of difference. Yeah, boy.
The opportunity for Obama: He has two years to show us. The difference, that is.
Longtime Texas newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. E-mail: email@example.com.