COLUMBUS _ ``I have to write an essay on the legacy of the Bush administration,'' the little miscreant said plaintively.
``You could do that on a matchbook cover,'' said Uncle Chet, sitting in the recliner, reading about the Celtics on his laptop.
``A legacy can be negative,'' Alice noted. ``It's everything you leave behind, isn't it?''
``Bush is leaving a mess,'' said Cousin Bruce, who was building a small house by the river. ``War, recession, everyone mad at us.''
``Wait; I want to write this down,'' said the ninth-grader, seizing a pad from the top of the cedar chest. ``Does anyone have a pen?''
``On the desk,'' said Hon.
``You can credit Bush with corrupting justice, and making Democrats out of a few Republican lawyers,'' said Uncle Chet. ``Lawyers know how the Constitution has been trashed.''
``They can just come grab you anymore,'' said Cousin Bruce.
``If you're Arab, sure,'' said Uncle Chet and turned to the ninth-grader. ``If you really want to know what's happened to American justice, Google Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. They're not Auschwitz, but they're torture centers. You're presumed guilty and treated accordingly. I read about one guy who was beaten so often, his body was `pulpified' when he died.''
``Ohh, that's awful,'' said Alice.
``Awful is part of the Bush legacy,'' said Uncle Chet. ``He's tortured people, tortured the Constitution, and lawyers know it.''
``How do you spell Guantanamo?'' asked the little miscreant.
``How about the economic legacy of our first MBA president?'' I asked
``G-U-A-N-T-A-N-A-M-O,'' said Hon.
``Where is it?'' asked Buddy.
``Cuba,'' said his sister.
``Economically, he's a Hoover,'' said Hon.
``Much worse than Hoover. He's more like Nixon, on steroids. Before Nixon, our dollars were good as gold,'' said Uncle Chet. ``Foreign currencies were backed by the dollar and the dollar was backed by gold, at $35 an ounce. But Nixon had to print more money to pay for another optional war, and slowly it became apparent we didn't have enough gold to pay for that war,'' he spoke slowly as she scribbled.
``Yes, Vietnam. So, somewhere in 1971, Nixon, who had an errand boy named Cheney, took us off the gold standard.''
``Uh huh,'' she nodded.
``After that, the dollar was backed only by talk, and you know what they say about talk. Still, things weren't too bad until Bush and Cheney took over, started an extravagant new war and began to print more and more paper money to pay for it.''
``Aren't we getting off track?'' asked the little miscreant.
``The government says inflation is just 4 percent a year,'' said Hon.
``Everyone knows it's higher,'' said Uncle Chet. ``Some gas stations have gone up that much in a week. The government gives us bogus numbers, because the real ones would cause a stampede.''
``So should people buy gold, before their dollars drop lower?'' I asked.
``Buy something: Yen, Euros, land, gold, silver, hogs, corn,'' he pulled a dollar from his pocket, ``because this thing is shrinking, thanks to another Bush legacy: rampant inflation, fueled by deficit spending.''
``So there's no sense saving money,'' said Hon.
``You need some money, but not too many dollars,'' said Uncle Chet.
``Why doesn't anyone else seem to know this?'' asked the little miscreant.
``It's complicated,'' said Cousin Bruce.
``And politicians aren't about to tell us about squandering money,'' I said.
``Which brings us to Bush's signature quality: deceit,'' said Uncle Chet ``Everything he's done, from stealing the election to pilfering from Social Security to lying about weapons of mass destruction, has been wrapped up in lies.''
``I think I've got it,'' said the ninth-grader. ``Bush trashed the Constitution, tortured Arabs, ruined the dollar and lied his tail off. '
``That's close enough for government work,'' Uncle Chet said and turned back to the Celtics.
Cooperstown News Bureau Reporter Tom Grace is traveling with his Uncle Chet, who he says is imaginary. Grace's column appears every other week.