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Today's hostilities turn out to be tomorrow's old news - Odessa American: Ken Brodnax

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Today's hostilities turn out to be tomorrow's old news

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Posted: Wednesday, April 28, 2010 12:00 am

Every time some political race around here turns heated — and there have been many races that fit the bill in Odessa over the decades — those most close to the situation act if it is the biggest event on the planet.

This is natural because politics tends to be an emotional process.

But inevitably time passes, the scenario plays out and most shrug the whole thing off as a tempest in a teapot.

Oh sure, the people at ground zero (the candidates themselves) may foster bad feelings and mental scars for years. But the rest of the world forgets such stuff in a hurry. It’s sort of like pro rasslin’, where fans scream, holler and cuss in the heat of a match, but likely would have a tough time remembering how the fight came out a few weeks or months later.

The examples of this madness would make a long list.

For instance, Odessa once had a mayor whose name got dragged into a criminal investigation. He was never charged or even officially implicated. But it did cost him the next election (to an opponent whose term was even more rocky and embarrassing).

The defeated politician vowed never to be a part of the public arena again after his bad experience.

But then, a number of years later, the guy rethought the whole thing, ran for a county office and served a commendable couple of terms with no controversy attached.

In other cases, we’ve seen bitter political enemies slug it out over an election or some issue with rhetoric flying like bullets in some old western movie. But a few years down the road, those same no-holds-barred combatants find themselves on the same side of a race and suddenly they’re the best of buddies.

Hark back to the old days when a couple of young guys met in the race to become the successor to George Mahon, then considered one of the most powerful congressmen in Washington. This was so far back that the Democrat beat the Republican by labeling the loser as not Texan enough.

The victor was Kent Hance. The loser was George W. Bush. Hance eventually would switch to the Republican Party, and we know how Bush’s political career went from there.

Despite the hostilities during their campaign, Bush would jokingly credit Hance for making sure he’d be president of the nation instead of chairman of the House Agriculture Committee. And Hance did OK in the long run, too. He’s chancellor for Texas Tech University.

In other words, times, circumstances and minds change. What seemed so important and earthshaking during a particular political battle turned out to be a minor footnote in the overall scheme of life.

And the process will play out yet again once the winners and losers in the local level races are sorted out.

But those of us who sit in the audience and have a chance to be amused by the flurry of name-calling and the flaring of tempers appreciate the escapism that comes with these occasional ideological — or maybe idiot-ological would be a better description — tussles.

Come to think of it, the wrestling analogy seems to survive the test of time.

Odessa, TX

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