Wednesday, August 24, 2005


700 Chump

It would be nice to just dismiss Pat Robertson's call for the assassination of Hugo Chavez as the ravings of a past-his-time political figure (sorta like this guy). Unfortunately, his words have real-world implications. They are damaging, not just because liberals can gleefully play "gotcha" with the wreckless comments of a religious political conservative.

They are damaging because, they play perfectly into Chavez's
hand. Now, I am most decidedly not a fan of the man. He's a thug and Castro wannabe.

However, when you speak to members of the nascent, struggling, opposition, they will tell you that Chavez's favorite trick to prop up his support is by playing on the paranoid fear that America is planning an invasion. To the extent that Robertson is still perceived as a "player" in U.S. politics, these headlines are a gift to Chavez's PR plans. Not surprisingly, on Tuesday, Venezuela used the
opportunity to place Chavez in the role of potential victim: "We are concerned about the safety of the president," said Venezuela's ambassador to the U.S.

Ironically, while Robertson succeeded in bringing some domestic news attention to Venezuela, considering the weak nature of Chavez's political opposition, ultimately in providing "aid and comfort" to the regime he identifies as a "terrific danger" to America.

UPDATE I: Matthew Yglesias comes to a similar conclusion -- though with another implication that I hadn't considered: Robertson's assessment of the Iraq policy.

UPDATE II: After a mild backtrack in the middle of the day, Robertson made a full apology. Sadly, Chavez will be dining off this for weeks.

UPDATE III (6:30 PM): Your humble blogger also apologizes. In the original post, I attributed certain comments denouncing Robertson to Rep. Charlie Rangel. In fact, those comments were made by Chavez's vice-president Vice-President José Vicente Rangel. The reference has been removed and I apologize for my hasty and sloppy reading.

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