11 November 2007

A History Lesson for Hugo Chavez

There was an amusing incident this weekend at an Ibero-American summit, during which someone finally told Hugo Chavez, to his face, to shut up. It was Juan Carlos, the King of Spain, who had been annoyed by Chavez's calling a former Prime Minister of that country a Fascist, apparently for no better reason that the man had supported George W. Bush and the invasion of Iraq. The Venezuelan also insinuated that the King of Spain somehow had advance knowledge of the coup that temporarily deposed Chavez in 2002, implying, of course, that the apparent friend of fascists, his majesty, must have supported the coup. Well, we have a record of Juan Carlos's attitude toward fascists and coups. He faced down a military coup attempt in his own country back in 1981, even though he would have been left on the throne. The Wikipedia account includes some dissenting speculation about the incident, but the international consensus is that Juan Carlos has earned the right to feel insulted by Chavez's ranting. It's another mark against the Venezuelan that he seems to think that anyone who disagrees with him or his worldview is a fascist of some kind, outright or latent. The word for that kind of mentality is McCarthyism. The jury is still out on his actual performance in office, there being a lot to his credit there from most reports, but as a person he seems to be an obnoxious blowhard in love with the sound of his own voice. Some may say that such a personality is necessary to shake up the system, but no one has to like it -- at least there isn't a law in Venezuela yet saying you have to. Say what you will about the American president, but at least he doesn't force us to watch him perform on television for hours at a time. On the other hand, if he did, we might finally have a change in this country.

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