By Rich Lowry
The Hendricks County Flyer
Tue Mar 12, 2013, 03:55 PM EDT
Let us pause and reflect. The left's favorite self-aggrandizing thug has shed this mortal coil. Hugo Chavez, R.I.P.
All the country's least-reflective and most-reflexive ideologues of the left immediately issued warm farewells - Sean Penn, Michael Moore, Oliver Stone, and, of course, the nation's 39th president, Jimmy Carter.
Carter praised Chavez for his commitment "to bring profound changes to his country," which, by installing himself as the effective president for life, he certainly did. Carter noted his "formidable communications skills," a quality that is not unusual in successful populist demagogues. In the gentle tone of someone who regrets that his good friend sometimes cheats at bridge, Carter allowed that he did not agree "with all of the methods followed by his government."
New York Rep. Jose Serrano rushed to praise Chavez: "He understood democracy and basic human desires for a dignified life." As a technical matter, Serrano is right: Chavez understood democracy exceedingly well, if by that you mean he understood how to exploit its forms while hollowing out its institutions to entrench himself in power in perpetuity.
He displaced a corrupt, conscienceless oligarchy when he took power in 1999 with his own corrupt, conscienceless rule. In a recent report, Human Rights Watch detailed how "the accumulation of power in the executive and the erosion of human rights protections have allowed the Chavez government to intimidate, censor, and prosecute critics and perceived opponents."
Fidel Castro was his mentor, and he propped up the Castro regime with Venezuela's ample oil. He praised every heinous dictator around the planet as a brother-in-arms. He was hell on the plutocrats, and also on the Jews. "Don't let yourselves be poisoned by those wandering Jews," he warned his countrymen, in a sentiment worthy of the 15th century.
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