- visceral connection with the poor, tapping into their resentments
- his followers called him Comandante
- had no qualms about using weapons to seize power
- used oil revenues to finance his desires
- nationaliz(ed) dozens of foreign-owned assets, including oil projects controlled by Exxon Mobil
- social welfare programs could be corrupt and inefficient, but they made the poor feel included in a society
- determined to hold onto and enhance his power
The WSJ who does not share ideology with this guy also notes:
- he stripped independent TV and radio stations of their licenses
- opposition politicians were limited to three minutes of advertising a day, while Chávez could commandeer the airwaves at any time
- he permitted no debates
- public workers risked being fired if they voted against him.
Weren't these the kind elections that Jimmy Carter blessed? (For those of you not paying attention, the answer is "yes".) Can anything be learned or concluded about President Carter's ideology from this? Are we allowed to conclude anything based on a man's actions? Or are stated good intentions the only thing that informs our judgment? Anyway, the list of laudable accomplishments rolls on:
- despite the populism and government handouts,... the less-fortunate now endure routine food and medicine shortages
- prices are more than 20 times higher than in 1999
- the murder rate in Caracas is one of the highest in the world
- bridges and roads are in disrepair
- blackouts are routine
- untreated sewage pollutes drinking water
What is it exactly that the left so admires about this man and other fellow sojourners like him on the left? Why would Kevin Spacey, Danny Glover, and Sean Penn visit this man? Some of this sounds like the left's fevered imaginary description that justified deep hatred of Bush. But this engenders love and admiration for Chávez? So they share Chávez's ideology or... what? I guess oil money is super nifty when you are a petrol-potentate or it is purchasing a leftist TV station. Remember, the NYT is inclined to print hagiographies of guys like this. But all they could come up with was what a rat he was?
He grew obsessed with changing Venezuela’s laws and regulations to ensure that he could be re-elected indefinitely and become, indeed, a caudillo, able to rule by decree at times.The NYT could have saved some space on that one. We have a nice short word for that – dictator.
The NYT continues:
He stacked his government with generals, colonels and majors, drawing inspiration from the leftist military officers who ruled Peru and Panama in the 1970s.
...often in his military uniform and paratrooper’s red beret.Isn't the left always worried about the militarization of government? Is there no self-awareness? The ends justify the means? Pas d'ennemis à gauche, I guess.
The NYT ended with psychiatrist Dr. Edmundo Chirinos's assessment: “a hyperkinetic and imprudent man, unpunctual, someone who overreacts to criticism, harbors grudges, is politically astute and manipulative, and possesses tremendous stamina, never sleeping more than two or three hours a night.” The WSJ concludes with: "As life stories go, the lesson of Chávez's is to beware charismatic demagogues peddling socialist policies at home and revolution abroad." That is, if we can conclude anything from results and not just intentions.