Wednesday, September 20, 2006


If you were listening to Venezuela’s President at the U.N. today and hadn’t heard him speak before, you might have been shocked and upset. Or not.

Hugo Chavez, an unabashed critic of the President called him the devil and said the podium he spoke at still smelled from sulphur (Bush spoke from there the day before).

He has also called him an assassin, a terrorist, a mass murderer, and linked Bush’s name with Hitler’s, among other friendly remarks.

Is this outrageous? Well, the first friend I reported this to responded that he agreed with Chavez (although acknowledging that he preferred Bush to Chavez or Ahmadinejad). Many people I know would probably respond the same way. You might too (dear reader). War protester Cindy Sheehan openly prefers Chavez to Bush.

A recent poll showed that 36% of this country believed (another poll with a tiny sample though) believed that the government was either actively involved with 9/11 or let it happen EVEN THOUGH AL QAEDA HAPPILY ADMITS IT, REJOICES IN IT. So, you can't be surprised when anyone believes anything.

Until recently, if you had wanted a steady diet of nasty talk about Bush, you didn’t need to wait for the U.N. meeting, you just had had to listen to the now defunct Air America Radio. “Nazis” may have been one of the kinder comparisons to Bush & Co. on that station.

This is no different than what conservatives say about Clinton or still say about “liberals”. You can here "Nazis" on conservative talk radio too. Just wait until Hillary Clinton gets the nomination. Comparisons to Nazis or Hitler, as well as descriptions like mass murderer are just popular ways of saying “I don’t like you” in political discourse. Its not new either (remember in 1804 Vice President Aaron Burr shot and killed Alexander Hamilton over some unknown "despicable opinion" for one single, but dramatic, example).

Chavez and Ahmadinejad are the Idi Amins (self proclaimed King of Scotland and America) and Muammar Qaddafis of the day, spouting high volume rhetoric meant to anger and incite. Its not that different from the open secret conservative pundit Ann Coulter knows, and her liberal targets don’t seem to get. “If you don't leave liberals in a sputtering impotent rage, you're not doing it right". She keeps insulting them and they keep sputtering. Why they keep falling for it I'll never know, but people are sensitive and calling them names drives them insane.

Bush and his team are wisely ignoring the taunts, but its not hard to believe that the President isn’t a little distracted at the moment, secretly picturing himself standing over Chavez the way Muhammed Ali was standing over Sonny Listen in that classic photograph, or daydreaming about a little private water boarding.

The most interesting part of the speech was the stirring round of applause he got after he finished. Lots of diplomats from all over the world seem either to agree with Chavez, or are impressed with his chutzpah, calling Bush a criminal in his own house. The president of the U.N., an Arabic lawyer, could not seem to restrain herself. Chavez was the rock star of the moment. Its like Wilt Chamberlain said, “Nobody likes Goliath”.

It’s not hard to picture the round of applause that Bin Laden would get if he made a speech in the U.N., as long as he targeted Bush and Israel.

One of Chavez’ suggestions was to move the U.N. somewhere else. Many Americans have had the same thought, and you have to bet, not the least today. Sometimes the obvious anti-Americanism at the U.N. gets me mad and I think so too. Sometimes I think not only move it, but drop out of it, and go into a period of semi-isolation from supposed allies whose governments or people seem to hate us (tempered by self interest, of course).

But then I remember “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer,” which I understand is attributed to Sun Tzu (“Book of War” about 400 B.C.). Whatever benefits we get from it, and that includes secret illegal surveillance, getting to speak first (or last), tying diplomats emotionally to America, preventing Bin Laden from speaking, and so on, its worth the costs and having to put up with obnoxious remarks from our guests, who we must also protect.

All of these leaders and diplomats are safer here than they would be anywhere else. Would Mr. Chavez would have felt as comfortable walking into a U.N. building in Iran and calling the Supreme Leader “El Diablo”? Yeah, right.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous6:54 PM

    It does seem that the loudest, most hateful rhetoric always comes from the ones who are weaker, more insecure and feel most impotent... in or outside the political arena. It immediately gives away the character of the person speaking, as well as the character of the people he/she attracts.
    Dignity and composure, to me, is a sign of strength, not surrender.


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I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .