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Columns

October 7, 2008

Travels with Uncle Chet: McCain's bad temper threatening

COLUMBUS _ ``He's like Bush with a bad temper,'' said Uncle Chet, while cranking the Foley Food Mill at the kitchen table.

``Be nice,'' said Alice, who stood next to him, dicing tomatoes on a large glass cutting board.

``Why be nice? The man's a menace,'' he said. ``He's an egomaniac, the pampered grandson of a famous admiral, catered to his entire life. He was a poor student, a bad pilot, a cheating husband, and he's lucky he wasn't kicked out of the Senate for helping his buddy, Charles Keating, bilk the public.''

``And he has bad breath,'' I said, bringing in another basket of tomatoes.

``That, I wouldn't know, but he is foul-mouthed and prone to rages, the last man you want with his finger on the button,'' said Uncle Chet. ``He doesn't want to talk to his adversaries; he wants to kill them, for inside that tortured mind he's still locked in a cell in Hanoi, where an implacable hatred was his way of coping.''

``You can't take that away from him,'' said Hon from the stove, where she was stirring the slowly thickening tomato sauce.

``I'm not. He was captured and tortured, one of many prisoners in that misbegotten war. But do we have to fight that war the rest of our lives, in the jungle, in the desert, even on our own streets? And how does the fact that McCain was tortured in any way qualify him to be president of the United States?''

No takers.

The food mill was grinding, the tomato sauce was bubbling, the kids were playing soccer-golf outside.

``Other than the temper, he's a lot like Bush,'' said Uncle Chet, pouring red juice into a large bowl, then scraping out the seeds. ``Bush is a third-generation patrician, son of a president, grandson of a senator. So is John Sidney McCain III, son and grandson of admirals. They grew up spoiled, in the shadows of powerful fathers. They floundered in college, partying, not studying, counting on help from high places whenever it was needed.

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