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Florida's U.S. Senators: Which One's Tweedle Dee?

At tonight's joint session of Congress, Florida will have two senators in the audience in a position to make good on a policy -- health-care reform -- that is the subject of tonight's speech and that was a major part of Barack Obama's presidential campaign, for which a majority of Florida voters cast a ballot.

Mind you, those ballots are a far more recent expression of the state's political views than the 2006 ballots that won Bill Nelson his place in the chamber. As for the other seat, well, it's kinda empty at the moment. The guy we elected quit on us and will give his final speech today. He'll be replaced tomorrow by a guy we didn't even vote for: Broward backroom power player George LeMieux.

One might guess that a Democrat like Nelson would have taken his cue from those Obama ballots in Florida or at least from the president who shares his party affiliation in voting for a reform package. But the St. Pete Times reports that Nelson would rather talk about pythons in the Everglades (he's against them) than health care, where he's been acting squirrelly, predicting the demise of the reform package's public option in the Senate without offering his vote in support of it.

And yet for Florida observers suffering from health-care angst, Nelson's cowardly pose isn't nearly as upsetting as the "Gee whiz!" naivete of the new guy. From William Gibson, writing in the Orlando Sentinel, who spoke with LeMieux in Washington, D.C.:

"I've got a lot of listening and learning to do," he acknowledged Tuesday while scoping out housing and schools in his new hometown.
OK, Tweedle Dum. So you're going to be our senator for only 16 months, and yet you're going to need to learn on the job? Every time I hear a quote from this guy, I half expect to hear it end with, "...but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night." LeMieux, you'll remember, was selected by Charlie Crist over a cast of former and current members of Congress, despite LeMieux's never having been elected to public office. And like any good Republican, LeMieux can be expected to also oppose the reform package of the president who won Florida.

So for those of you who waited in long lines last November to vote for Obama (and health-care reform), the joke's on you.

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Thomas Francis

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