COLUMBUS _ ``What's it going to be?'' asked Hon, who was setting the table. ``Obama in a squeaker or a landslide?''
``I'll take it either way,'' said Uncle Chet from the rattan rocker near the wood stove. ``As long as we don't elect Elmer Fudd.''
``Elmer Fudd?'' said second-grader Buddy, who sat on the rug with our Springer Spaniel. ``He's on YouTube with Bugs Bunny!''
``I know, and he was at the debates, too, shooting blanks at that wascally wabbit,'' said Uncle Chet. ``And Fudd was so testy, so confused, it made me wonder whether the Republicans are deliberately tanking this time.''
``Don't want to win, because Bush is leaving such a mess?'' I said from over where I was installing an interior storm window.
``Sure,'' Chet said as he sipped wine and soaked up the heat coming from the fire. ``Six months after Obama's in, it's going to be his recession, his health care crisis, his three wars, and Fox News will be screaming for his head.''
``Three wars?'' asked Hon.
``Iraq, Afghanistan, and remember that old standby, the war on terror?'' he said. ``Obama's going to inherit three failed wars and a sick economy. People are going to lose homes, jobs, retirements. They want a quick fix, but Fort Knox is empty and we can't spend our way back to prosperity. Millions of jobs have been sent to China and it's going to take years to rebuild our economy. The neocons know this; they're the ones who cleaned us out, so now they're throwing the election, pretending to be upset while they gear up for next time.''
``Well, I think McCain wants it, even if those around him believe it's a lost cause,'' said Hon, removing corn bread from the oven.
``Then why pick Sarah Six-Pack as his number two?'' said Uncle Chet. ``She's a babe, I'll grant you, but otherwise she's an embarrassment. In Europe, they call her the `half-baked Alaska.' She can read a canned speech and maybe skin a moose, but they don't dare let her talk on her own, for fear she might say something revealing. Not halfway through her first term as governor and already being criticized for ethics violations. Is this really the best the Republicans can do?''
``McCain needed a woman, or the ticket would have been be two rich white men, with a dozen homes and 20 cars between them,'' I said, lining the edge of the window with rope caulk.
``Then why not Olympia Snowe, Elizabeth Dole, someone plausible, someone with credentials?'' he asked. ``Why this fire-breathing wing nut, with her frenzied `palling around with terrorists' rhetoric?''
``They're trying to ignite their base.'' I shrugged, stood back from the window, ready to move to the next one.
``That rabble at their rallies is not the Republican base,'' said Uncle Chet. ``The base is rich and sly. Think Rove; he's their poster boy. They're the millionaires and billionaires who sent our factories overseas to take advantage of cheap labor. They hate Social Security, Medicare, anything else that shores up the middle class, allows people to stand up to them. They run AIG, Enron, Halliburton, Bechtel, Exxon Mobil, and they've made a killing the last eight years.
``They run almost everything in most people's lives, but when it comes to voting, they're a tiny minority. So, every four years, they throw out some red meat and turn on the noise machine. They whip up the masses over gay marriage, weapons of mass destruction, orange alert, red alert, Bill Ayers, Joe the Plumber, because they don't want people to focus on how they're stealing us blind, how people have to work harder and harder for less and less.''
``But not this time,'' I said.
``We can't afford it this time,'' he agreed.
``Joe the Plumber can give up plumbing and write a book now,'' said Hon, who was laying out the dinner plates.
``True,'' said Uncle Chet, ``even though his first name isn't Joe, he isn't a plumber, he doesn't make $250,000 a year and he wouldn't pay a dime more in taxes under Obama's plan; still everything else about him appears to be authentic.''
``Meaning nothing,'' I said.
``Meaning, I'm sure he'll write a book and go down in history, at least as a footnote. And that's only fair; he's already given more interviews than Sarah Palin.''
Cooperstown News Bureau Reporter Tom Grace is traveling with his Uncle Chet, who he says is imaginary. Grace's column appears every other week.