This column by James Taranto (the second item down) is so good, it warrants a full cut and paste. Read it all:
Barack Obama isn’t a dictator, and as of yesterday neither is Hugo Chavez. The socialist Venezuelan demagogue died of cancer yesterday, as London’s left-wing Guardian notes in an over-the-top obit:
No one imagined it would end like this. A ravaged body, a hospital bed, a shroud of silence, invisible. Hugo Chávez’s life blazed drama, a command performance, and friend and foe alike always envisaged an operatic finale.
He would rule for decades, transform Venezuela and Latin America, and bid supporters farewell from the palace balcony, an old man, his work complete. Or, a parallel fantasy: he would tumble from power, disgraced and defeated by the wreckage of revolution, ending his days a hounded pariah.Oh give us a break. Chavez announced he had cancer almost two years ago, and it had been clear for months that his condition was terminal. It would take either an overactive imagination or none at all to fail to imagine “it would end like this.” Still, Chavez’s expected death calls to mind Hilaire Belloc’s “Epitaph on the Politician Himself”:
Here richly, with ridiculous display,
The Politician’s corpse was laid away.
While all of his acquaintance sneered and slanged,
I wept: for I had longed to see him hanged.”The most damning critique of Chávez’s rule concerned not democratic credentials but managerial competence,” the Guardian obit claims:
After a decade of record oil revenues totalling around a trillion dollars, an unprecedented bounty, Venezuela is falling apart: roads crumbling, bridges falling, refineries exploding. A wheezing power grid produces regular blackouts. Public hospitals are dank, prisons filthy and barbaric. Murder and kidnapping rates have soared, imposing a de facto curfew in many cities. The currency was recently devalued for the fifth time in a decade. Many young professionals have emigrated.
The economy is warping from subsidies and controls. You can fill a car’s petrol tank for around 50 cents but battle for months to start a company. High-rolling parasites nicknamed “boligarchs” exploit government links to siphon off billions.
Harassed by expropriations, private agriculture and industry have shrivelled. Huge imports fill the gap, the containers stacked into pyramids at ports, though you would never guess it from Orwellian rhetoric trumpeting “food sovereignty” and “manufacturing independence”.”Managerial incompetence,” it seems, is a euphemism for socialism.
Jimmy Carter delivered quite a eulogy:
Rosalynn and I extend our condolences to the family of Hugo Chávez Frías. . . . Although we have not agreed with all of the methods followed by his government, we have never doubted Hugo Chávez’s commitment to improving the lives of millions of his fellow countrymen.
President Chávez will be remembered for his bold assertion of autonomy and independence for Latin American governments and for his formidable communication skills and personal connection with supporters in his country and abroad to whom he gave hope and empowerment. . . . Venezuelan poverty rates were cut in half, and millions received identification documents for the first time allowing them to participate more effectively in their country’s economic and political life.Carter was considerably less effusive when Ronald Reagan died in 2004, as MSNBCnoted at the time:
Carter said Sunday that the death of Reagan, who defeated him in the 1980 presidential election, was “a sad day for our country.”
“He presented some very concise, very clear messages that appealed to the American people. I think throughout his term in office he was very worthy of the moniker that was put on him as the ‘Great Communicator.” ‘
“I probably know as well as anybody what a formidable communicator and campaigner that President Reagan was,” Carter said before teaching Sunday school in his hometown of Plains, Ga. “It was because of him that I was retired from my last job.”We got to wondering how Carter marked the deaths of other thugs and dictators. He was as enthusiastic about Yasser Arafat as about Chavez:
Arafat’s death marks the end of an era and will no doubt be painfully felt by Palestinians throughout the Middle East and elsewhere in the world.
He was the father of the modern Palestinian nationalist movement. A powerful human symbol and forceful advocate, Palestinians united behind him in their pursuit of a homeland. While he provided indispensable leadership to a revolutionary movement and was instrumental in forging a peace agreement with Israel in 1993, he was excluded from the negotiating role in more recent years.We couldn’t find statements on the deaths of Fidel Castro, Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein, though we did find this quote in a 2007 interview with the hard-left TV show “Democracy Now!“: “I despised Saddam Hussein, because he attacked Iran when my hostages were being held. It was President Reagan who established diplomatic relations with Saddam Hussein after I left office.”
Which got us to thinking: How did Carter mark the death of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who not only kept “my hostages” in captivity for well over a year but released them immediately after Reagan’s inauguration, apparently just to rub Carter’s nose in it? Here’s the answer, from a 1989 Associated Press dispatch:
“I know he was a great hero in his own nation,” Carter told reporters outside his church in Plains, Ga., on Sunday. “My hope is that his successor will be more inclined toward peace and reconciliation.”So Carter praised Reagan only slightly more faintly than Khomeini.
Incidentally, as we were looking up old Carter statements, we came across a March 1989 Carter op-ed from the New York Times complaining that “Ayatollah Khomeini’s offer of paradise to [Salman] Rushdie’s assassin”–that is to say, the ayatollah’s effort to incite Rushdie’s murder–“has caused writers and public officials in Western nations to become almost exclusively preoccupied with the author’s rights.”