One of the chief sources of unfavorable opinion about Mr. Chavez is "my" president, Mr. George W. Bush; I am quite confident that he is a bad president, a spendthrift, and a foolish, wicked, and vain man as well. In today's news, one of Mr. Bush's minions (and perhaps, it's been said, his aspiring successor), Miss Condoleezza Rice, tells us:
Addressing a congressional hearing on Thursday, Ms Rice accused Mr Chavez of leading a "Latin brand of populism that has taken countries down the drain".
She described Venezuela's close relationship with Cuba as "particularly dangerous".
"Particularly dangerous" to whom, I wonder? But, more ominously:
"The international community has just got to be much more active in supporting and defending the Venezuelan people," she said.
I wonder how many of the Venezuelan people are hoping to be supported and defended in the Imperial style: the way the Iraqi people have been supported and defended, that is. I'm going to be optimistic here -- perhaps recklessly so -- and assume that the "supporting and defending" talk is just hot air. After all, a large fraction of the legions is firmly tied down in Iraq and Afghanistan right now, and it seems likely that if Bush & Co. are stupid enough to take on a fresh project right now, it would be Iran, or maybe Syria. Our star Middle East welfare client state, after all, would probably be displeased to see its American attack dog wasting its ferocity on a target half the world away from it. So Venezuela is probably safe, for now at least, from an "Operation Venezuelan Freedom" or an "Operation Pan-Galactic Justice." For now, that is.
I am awed, though, by Miss Rice's capacity for pure nonsense. Unless, perhaps, she said many words not reported by the BBC, in which she explained exactly which countries have been "taken down the drain" by Mr. Chavez's leadership, where the drain is, and how a whole country can fit down it. Could she be referring to economic calamities? The running-up of astronomical debts for the glorification of the Leader, and his maintenance in power? Or, maybe, to the imposition of onerous government control of, and spying on, the people in these down-the-drain countries? Why, this is starting to sound like my country!
I'll have to admit it: that damnable Chavez must indeed be taking at least one country down the drain -- mine. And all this time, I thought it was Bush who was doing it. Devilishly clever, that Chavez. Dangerous. He's got to go.