COLUMBUS _ ``Hillary is a monster,'' said Uncle Chet, sitting in the rocker by the wood stove, sipping a glass of dark beer. ``But it was a mistake to say so.''
``How do you figure?' I asked.
``Well, it was an insult,'' he said. ``Monsters everywhere are offended, and now Obama's going to lose the monster vote.''
``She's not really a monster,'' said Alice, silver-haired child of the '60s, getting ready to retire in the spring. "She's desperate to win; I'll give you that. And she's a smooth talker.''
"Like Slick Willie,'' said Cousin Bruce, who was up from Springfield.
``Yes, when you think about it, they're perfectly matched,'' said Alice. ``Now their marriage makes sense to me. Anyway, I still don't think that makes her a monster.''
``Well, I looked it up,'' said Uncle Chet. ``And the dictionary says a monster is something that's `shocking, frightful, hideous or revolting.'''
``She's not `revolting,''' said Alice.
``I looked that up, too,'' he said, rocking in the rattan chair beside the fire, icy rain pattering on the tin roof above. On the floor beside him, Buddy was playing with his model cars.
``Well, what is it?'' she asked.
```Disgusting or repulsive.'''
``I wouldn't say she's `disgusting or repulsive.' She's not even in the same league with the crew we have now,'' Alice declared.
``I don't know,'' Cousin Bruce cut in. ``Bush backs McCain and Hillary was talking up McCain for commander-in-chief. Aren't they all working together?''
"They are, and Democrats should find that revolting,'' said Uncle Chet. ``But I'm willing to concede she's not `revolting.' However, a monster could be `shocking, hideous or frightful,' and who can say she's not `frightful' after her commercial about the red phone ringing at night while America's children are fast asleep?''
``What does `frightful' mean?'' asked Hon.
``I saw that one on YouTube,'' said Bruce. ``I'd like to make a commercial about her answering the phone at 3 a.m., and it's from Paula Jones, saying: `Do you know where your husband is?'''
``Inspiring fear,'' said Uncle Chet, putting down his empty glass. ``Wasn't she trying to scare the bejesus out of people, saying that if Obama took the call, those children would be in mortal danger?'' Alice nodded.
``And wasn't that an attempt to inspire fear in voters, just like Bush and Cheney with their orange-alert, red-alert, dive-under-the-bed tactics?'' Still nodding, not speaking.
``So, Samantha Power was right: Hillary Clinton is, by definition, a monster,'' he pressed on.
``Maybe, by that definition,'' she sighed.
``Is Hillary really a monster?'' asked Buddy, our first grader.
``I wouldn't say that,'' I told him.
``Not too loud, anyway,'' said Bruce. ``Or the monster might come get you!''
He chased after the little boy, who squealed with delight and climbed onto the couch next to his mother.
``And she might be `shocking,' too, when you think about it,'' said Uncle Chet. ``Isn't she shockingly duplicitous, with her NAFTA doubletalk and that baloney about how the media favors Obama?''
``Nothing she does shocks me,'' said Bruce, hoisting an empty glass before heading toward the refrigerator for a refill. ``Didn't she make a hundred grand on pork bellies once?''
``Cattle futures,'' said Uncle Chet. ``But that was a long time ago, and Obama doesn't want to go there. He's got to take the high road or risk losing his base. I think he should be firm, but not insulting. Ask her to disclose her tax records, show us the big donors to the Clinton library, but don't get personal.''
``Isn't that what he's doing?'' said Hon. ``She's always trying to draw him into a fight, but he never takes the bait.''
``But he doesn't want to be too nice, or they'll say he's milquetoast,'' I added.
``I think he's got to come out swinging,'' said Bruce.``Calling her a monster only helps him with the people I know. Everyone knows Power was saying what she really thinks; she ought to get a prize for honesty.''
``I heard she already got one,'' said Uncle Chet. ``They call it a Pulitzer.''
Cooperstown News Bureau Reporter Tom Grace is traveling with his Uncle Chet, who he says is imaginary. Grace's column appears every other week.