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Is that Jeb in the 2005 crystal ball for politics?

It was a magical moment.

Early Christmas morning, as excited children ran down the stairs to see what Santa left behind and adults struggled to get a turkey in the oven, we looked out the back windows.

Standing just 20 feet from our back door was a large deer with a rack of antlers.

Santa Claus left him behind, we told the 6-year-old in our midst.

Is it Dancer or Prancer or Blixen, Brianna asked with excitement as we watched the deer jump over bushes on his way across our yard.

We knew it wasn't Rudolph. No red nose.

It's the kind of moment that cannot be staged or planned.

It disappeared in a blizzard of news about a giant tsunami that swept across Indonesia leaving so many people dead and homeless. Day by day the numbers escalate as hurricane-weary Floridians watch.

We thought we'd seen the worst that nature could inflict on us when storm after storm raged across the state, leaving many of us with damaged and destroyed homes and businesses.

But it was mere practice for the real event.

On Sunday, Gov. Jeb Bush will join a high-profile group led by Secretary of State Colin Powell to inspect recovery efforts halfway across the world. The president's younger brother has a lot of experience with things like this.

As governor, he brought hope and compassion to communities in every corner of Florida as Charley, Frances, Jeanne and Ivan traipsed across our state.

Can he do the same on an international scale?

His selection comes after older brother was criticized around the world for being slow to show any kind of compassion for ravaged countries and those who are dead and missing.

Some think the governor's selection for this trip might advance his image in a giant step toward the presidency in 2008.

The governor has repeatedly said he is not running for president. He has said it in every way possible, but there are those who refuse to believe. And there is time to change his mind, notes Tim Russert of NBC's Meet the Press.

But don't bet on it.

Jeb Bush is most likely to return to Miami and get a job that can rebuild his tattered finances. Unlike many who are elected to public office, his net worth has actually declined during the past six years.

Don't expect him to disappear from the stage. Those close to him expect him to create a foundation or university think tank or some organization that will continue to push his reading and education initiatives.

The pressure on him to run for another political office is likely to increase as Republicans search for future candidates.

Unlike the Democrats in Florida, the Republicans have no shortage of high-profile candidates who can step up to the plate.

It's early in 2005, but soon we will see Republicans like Attorney General Charlie Crist, Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher and Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings formally announce plans to run for governor in 2006.

There is a lot of speculation about candidates the Democrats might field. Will they include Lawton "Bud" Chiles, son of the former governor, or U.S. Sen. Bob Graham or former Education Commissioner Betty Castor?

Or will Democrats look to the future with candidates like U.S. Rep. Jim Davis of Tampa, Sen. Rod Smith of Alachua or party chairman Scott Maddox?

Florida's Democrats have historically had trouble looking toward the future. Some would argue the election of Chiles in 1990 set the party back because it did nothing to cultivate future candidates. The problem was compounded by Chiles' tendency to surround himself with old friends instead of finding new ones.

Given the success of Republicans in Florida, does it matter whom the Democrats choose?

We'll have to wait and see.

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