COLUMBUS _ ``How about `Obama-Gillibrand, 2012?''' Uncle Chet asked as he pored over his cards on a wintry night.

``Obama called her Friday, right after Paterson picked her,'' I reported.

``Let's get her into the Senate first,'' said Hon.

``Joe Biden hasn't been in office a week, and already you're trying to get rid of him,'' Alice noted.

``Just thinking ahead,'' said Uncle Chet, stroking his gray beard. ``In politics and chess, you can't think too far ahead.''

``How about in pitch?'' I got up from the table, loaded another log into the blazing stove. ``Think you'd like to bid tonight?''

``God hates a coward; I'll go two,'' said Uncle Chet.

``Three,'' said Alice with a little wave of her long silver hair.

``Bye me,'' I said.

``And me,'' said Hon, gazing at her partner as the girls played the boys for the bragging rights of northern Columbus.

Alice led the ace of spades and everyone followed suit, casting off some middling cards.

``A progressive woman hunter on the presidential ticket,'' said Uncle Chet. ``Republicans wouldn't know what to do about that, would they?''

``She and Obama would look good, side-by-side,'' said Alice.

```A vice president who won't shoot you in the face, because she knows what she's doing,''' I said.

``There's a slogan for the ol' West,'' said Uncle Chet.

```Vote Gillibrand, the straight shooter,''' said Hon.

``And that'll work anywhere,'' he said. ``Of course, first she has to keep the Senate seat next year and that won't be easy if the recession keeps getting worse.''

``Which it will,'' said Hon.

``She'll carry upstate,'' I predicted.

``But she's catching heat downstate over this gun issue,'' said Alice. ``Have you seen the Times? Maureen Dowd was nasty.''

``She's in the tank for Caroline Kennedy,'' said Uncle Chet, ``and she's whining because Paterson didn't pick her favorite.''

``She said he trashed Caroline Kennedy, but she didn't really say how,'' said Alice, leading the queen of hearts.

``I know how,'' I said. ``Paterson acknowledged he'd made up his mind before Caroline withdrew her name.''

``In other words, he'd given her face-saving way out,'' said Uncle Chet.

``I think so,'' I said. ``Then, being a little too honest, he admitted he'd been impressed with Gillibrand all along.''

``He's probably not used to fibbing, even when it's to spare someone,'' said Uncle Chet.

``Sinning, yes; fibbing, no,'' said Alice.

``I kind of like the governor,'' I said. ``He's got a sense of humor.''

``Me, too,'' said Uncle Chet, ``and you know what I thought about his predecessor.''

``Me, too,'' said Hon, and all eyes were on Alice, garnering another trick as the girls were cleaning up tonight.

``I like him, too,'' she said, ``and the senator. I don't see anything wrong with hunting a wild turkey. My father did it and we were thrilled when he got one.''

``If you're not a vegetarian, you don't have a leg to stand on,'' I said.

``Is Maureen Dowd a vegetarian, or does she want us to eat those neurotic prisoners from the factory farms, force-fed chemicals meant to fatten them, and the stockholders, up?'' asked Uncle Chet.

``Yum,'' said Hon.

``Think of the wild bird's life, compared to his detainee cousins','' he said. ``Which would you rather be: A free, independent individual, living with a family off thousands of acres of woods, grass, corn fields and clear streams, with a chance, maybe one in five, that someday you'd be shot and eaten. Or a hopeless, feckless, over-bred blob, like a caricature out of WALL-E, trapped inside a fluorescent haze all your days?''

``Now let me think,'' said Hon.

``At the same time, we don't want criminals carrying handguns, or anyone running with a gun in the city,'' he said. ``What we need is a little common sense, and there's no one more likely to find it than Kirsten Gillibrand.''


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

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