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January 13, 2009

Travels with Uncle Chet: For rich, Bush was a success

``Heckuva job, George.'' Uncle Chet raised his wine glass. ``You've accomplished everything you wanted to in the last eight years.''

``Yeah, right,'' I said, serving Buddy some spaghetti.

``I'm serious,'' said Uncle Chet. ``Didn't he set out to enrich the rich?''

``Seems so.''

``Sure he did.'' He brought his glass down. ``Remember him cooing at that lavish get-together: `Some people call you the elite. I call you my base?'''

``I'll never forget that,'' said Alice, child of the '60s with the long silver hair.

``Truer words were never spoken,'' said Uncle Chet. ``Bush Two is the best tool the rich have ever had for lining their pockets. He's lowered their taxes, cut their liability, and thanks to the Republican economy, no one has any trouble finding a maid anymore.''

``That's one way to look at it,'' I said.

``That's the only way to understand it,'' said Uncle Chet. ```Follow the money.' Isn't that what they say? Well, follow the money over the last eight years and you'll begin to appreciate the magnitude of the Bush heist. Because when a nation racks up $5 trillion in debt, someone got those dollars.''

``Who?'' asked the little miscreant, our 10th-grader, as she eyed the man with the white beard.

``Well, not the poor,'' he said, serving himself. ``The poor don't have any money and the middle class have less than they used to.''

``Then it's the rich,'' said Buddy, who'll soon be 8.

``Bush is commander in chief in a class war, and the rich are winning,'' said Uncle Chet. ``Actually, the economy is doing great; we have more billionaires than ever. They just don't dare admit it.''

``Isn't that going to change with the depression?'' asked Hon, who'd brought rolls to the table.

``This looks wonderful,'' said Alice.

``Hope so,'' said Hon, and we dug in.

``Is this beef or venison in the sauce?'' asked Alice.

``Venison,'' said Hon.

``I shot it,'' said Buddy.

``He was there, but I shot it,'' she corrected.

``The rich make out like bandits in a depression because everything's on sale,'' said Uncle Chet. ``The rest of us have to work harder and worry, but if you have enough money, a depression's like a big garage sale.''

``So what you're saying is that based on self-interest, someone could make the case that Bush did a good job,'' I said.

``I'm saying he did a great job, he just wasn't on our side,'' said Uncle Chet.

``He didn't do too well with his wars,'' I said.

``Sure he did,'' said Uncle Chet. ``The wars have been wonderful for oil companies and defense contractors, haven't they? Don't Cheney and his cronies at Halliburton and Bectel think the war is going well, with billions a month flowing into their veins?''

``Oooh,'' said the little miscreant.

``How about health care? He's gotten nowhere with that.''

``Our health care system is the finest in the world for transfusing money into insurance companies,'' said Uncle Chet. ``Aren't they getting 30 cents on the dollar? Now that's a healthy profit, and that's the beauty of health care.

"When people need it, they REALLY need it.'' He took a sip of wine. ``No, I'd have to say the `compassionate conservative' has done an excellent job of preserving health care profits.''

``This tastes great, Mom,'' said Buddy.

``It does,'' said Uncle Chet.

``How about torture?'' I asked. ``Doesn't he get a black eye for that?''

``You know someone's getting rich on torture and wants to sell as much as possible to the government,'' he said. ``And it dovetails with that RED ALERT, be afraid, us-and-them, don't question, you're-a-consumer-not-a-citizen mindset of the Bush administration.''

``Which ends next week,'' I said.

``Well, the wars and the forces behind them won't end next week,'' he said.

``But we'll have Obama,'' said Buddy.

``We'll have Obama,'' said Uncle Chet. ``And he'll need all the help he can get.''


Cooperstown News Bureau Reporter Tom Grace is traveling with his Uncle Chet, who he says is imaginary. Grace's column appears every other week.