COLUMBUS _ ``You know what's killing the Republican Party?'' asked Uncle Chet, looking at his raised glass of wine as if the answer was there.
``Rush Limbaugh, voice of the GOP,'' said Hon. ``He's their symbol now, and he's no Lincoln.''
``He's not even a Falcon,'' said Uncle Chet.
``He's not even an Edsel,'' I said.
``Isn't that a car?'' asked the little miscreant, our 15-year-old who was munching on multigrained chips and salsa.
``Which one?'' I asked
``They all were,'' Hon told her, while pouring Buddy some orange juice.
``I think torture is going to kill the Republicans,'' said Alice, who sat nearest the stove, where a fire kindled on this cool night in May. ``I mean, when you think of torture, which names come to mind?''
``Cheney,'' I said.
``Bush,'' said Hon. ``He had to have known.''
``And Rove,'' said Uncle Chet. ``Because wasn't he the spider, spinning the web?''
``All Republicans,'' said Alice, ``although last week, they were trying to implicate Pelosi because they know how dangerous that image is.''
``It's death among women,'' said Hon. ``Mothers of soldiers, mothers of peaceniks, no one wants torture. I think we're going to see a wider and wider gender gap.''
``Fact is, we're all in this together,'' said Uncle Chet. ``The last administration smeared the American name, and millions around the globe hate you and me as much as they hate any right-winger. No one whose brother was shocked, beaten and waterboarded is going to say, `Oh, of course there are some very nice Americans, too.'''
``That's what I mean,'' said Alice. ``What they did, what they allowed, is a crime on many levels and if we get trials, most of the defendants will be Republican. I think it could be their final act before they go the way of the Whigs.''
``Which way did the Whigs go?'' I asked.
``They'll just regroup,'' said Uncle Chet. ``They've still got the money.''
``Well, I looked up waterboarding, and you know what they do?'' asked Alice.
``Hold you under a boat?'' said the little miscreant.
``That's keelhauling,'' I said.
``They almost drown you,'' said Hon, ``but I don't know how.''
``They hold you down, lying on your back, with your head on the lower end of a board,'' said Alice. ``Then they pour water in your nose and mouth so you gag and can't breathe. But you try to breathe anyway, and the water goes down into your lungs until you start to drown,'' she said.
``And when you're almost dead, they let you have a couple of breaths,'' I said.
``I think we should talk about something else,'' said Hon, with a glance at Buddy.
``And they keep it up until you're willing to say, or sign, anything,'' said Uncle Chet.
``That's disgusting,'' said the little miscreant.
``That wouldn't take long with me,'' I said, ``but I don't think Americans dwell on, or vote on, torture. The economy's what's killing the Republican Party. It fell apart on their watch.''
``You're all right,'' said Uncle Chet. ``Basically, incompetence is killing Republicans, at the national level. From `Heckova job, Brownie,' to the bank bailout, they produced disaster after disaster, and I can't see them coming back soon.''
``I think the war was their undoing,'' said Alice.
``No, this country loves a splendid little war,'' he said. ``It's like flexing a biceps, hitting a home run. Tortured prisoners, collateral damage, loss of young American lives, all would have been forgiven if we'd had a well-managed war. That's what Bush and Cheney promised, but they reneged because they're incompetent.''
``Incompetent, or worse,'' I said.
``That's the other possibility,'' he said. ``The rich did get richer, and you can be sure that was no accident. Someone made a buck on guns, derivatives, bombs, bulldozers, even on waterboards, so from that perspective, you might say the Republican Party is going out of business by design.''
``Cashing out,'' I said.
``Imploding by intelligent design,'' he said. ``So they can retrench, rebrand and fool us again.''
Cooperstown News Bureau Reporter Tom Grace is traveling with his Uncle Chet, who he says is imaginary. Grace's column appears every other week.