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Columns

August 25, 2009

Travels with Uncle Chet: Anything less is a sham(e)

COLUMBUS _ When the telephone rang Saturday morning, I didn’t answer. I had furniture moved, ladders set up, windows open and I was ready to coat the staircase with amber shellac.



But I did listen to the answering machine, and when I heard, ``This’ll only take a minute,’’ I picked up the cordless.



``Aren’t you coming over later?’’



``Yes. But I want to finish this first,’’ said Uncle Chet. ``What?’’



``A letter to the president.’’



``He’ll never read it.’’



``In the form of a guest editorial,’’ he said.



``Maybe on Daily Kos.’’



``About the Taliban and health care.’’



“That’s quite a combination.’’ I walked to the table where I’d left my half cup of coffee.



``And how it’s not good enough just being better than Bush,’’ said Uncle Chet.



``He’s way better than Bush.’’



``Well, that’s not good enough, considering what we’re up against, so I thought I’d speak up,’’ he said.



``Go ahead.’’



``Dear Mr.



President: I voted for you and would again, if you had the same lunatic opposition, but I’m disappointed you haven’t taken bolder action at home and abroad.



``Afghanistan is a lost cause and always has been.



Rebel forces in mountainous areas are cheap to maintain and nearly impossible _ and therefore very expensive _ to defeat. And why bother to defeat them? What threat are they to us? The Taliban, for all their religious fanaticism, are not al-Qaida. Before we attacked Afghanistan, in 2001, the Taliban said they would turn Osama bin Laden over to us if we’d show them proof that he was behind the 9/11 attacks.’’



``Is that true?’’ I asked.



``Yes, but let me go on with this.’’ ``OK.’’



``But Mr. Bush, whose family was heavily invested in the `defense’ industry, refused this request. Instead, he launched an air assault, and we’ve been mired in the desert ever since, blowing up munitions, men and money.

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