Ed Driscoll

Hugo Chavez's Socialist Symmetry in Saying Sayonara

Hugo Chavez has assumed room temperature, according to AP:

President Hugo Chavez was a fighter. The former paratroop commander and fiery populist waged continual battle for his socialist ideals and outsmarted his rivals time and again, defeating a coup attempt, winning re-election three times and using his country’s vast oil wealth to his political advantage.

A self-described “subversive,” Chavez fashioned himself after the 19th Century independence leader Simon Bolivar and renamed his country the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

He called himself a “humble soldier” in a battle for socialism and against U.S. hegemony. He thrived on confrontation with Washington and his political opponents at home, and used those conflicts to rally his followers.

Almost the only adversary it seemed he couldn’t beat was cancer.

And on the 60th anniversary of Joseph Stalin’s death, to boot. No wonder the AP’s obit for Chavez has the same necrophiliac tone as the New York Times’ encomium for Stalin in 1953:

Joseph Stalin became the most important figure in the political direction of one-third of the people of the world. He was one of a group of hard revolutionaries that established the first important Marxist state and, as its dictator, he carried forward its socialization and industrialization with vigor and ruthlessness.

During the second World War, Stalin personally led his country’s vast armed forces to victory. When Germany was defeated, he pushed his country’s frontiers to their greatest extent and fostered the creation of a buffer belt of Marxist-oriented satellite states from Korea across Eurasia to the Baltic Sea. Probably no other man ever exercised so much influence over so wide a region.

In the late Nineteen Forties, when an alarmed world, predominantly non-Communist, saw no end to the rapid advance of the Soviet Union and her satellites, there was a hasty and frightened grouping of forces to form a battle line against the Marxist advance. Stalin stood on the Elbe in Europe and on the Yalu in Asia. Opposed to him stood the United States, keystone in the arch of non-Marxist states.

Stalin took and kept the power in his country through a mixture of character, guile and good luck. He outlasted his country’s intellectuals, if indeed, he did not contrive to have them shot, and he wore down the theoreticians and dreamers. He could exercise great charm when he wanted to. President Harry Truman once said in an unguarded moment:

“I like old Joe. Joe is a decent fellow, but he is a prisoner of the Politburo.”

I’m tempted to quip “don’t ever change, old media.” But we all know that they never will.

Update: Unlike the AP’s crooning of the last chorus of “Springtime for Chavez,” Roger L. Simon has a very different song in his heart today:

And the Rhetorican begins the inevitable round of Chavez Dead, “Sean Penn Hardest Hit” jokes.  Not to mention New York Congressman Jose E. Serrano (D-of course), and England’s George Galloway:

Click to enlarge.

As spotted by Hot Air’s Allahpundit who adds, “David Frum points to this piece from a few years ago estimating that the Man of the People had amassed a private fortune of $2 billion.” No wonder Oliver Stone loved him so, as PJM’s Ron Radosh wrote in 2010.

And speaking of Stone-esque conspiracy theories:

Hours before announcing the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez , Caracas expelled two U.S. Embassy officials for allegedly plotting against the government and blamed “historic enemies” for inducing the leader’s his cancer.

And thus Oliver Stone’s next Showtime segment writes itself.

Something tells me that Matt Drudge is in much brighter spirits today than socialists such as Stone, Penn, Galloway and Serrano:

Update (3:41 PM PST): Just a reminder of who else was rather chummy with Chavez:


Update (4:07 PM PST): Actual Pravda headline: “Chavez loses his battle, Heaven gains an angel:”

All of which would be quite a surprise to the once atheistic socialist, I suppose. Meanwhile, “NBCNews.com Mourns Chavez: Who Will Become Region’s ‘Voice of Socialism and Anti-Americanism?'”

Huh. Isn’t that NBC’s job, or don’t they get that network on the cable feed down there?

Update (4:24 PM PST): When news of Chavez’s death first broke today, one Twitter user quipped, “I won’t believe it until Jimmy Carter certifies it.” Oh boy, has he certified it:

Statement From Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter
on the Death of Hugo Chavez

Rosalynn and I extend our condolences to the family of Hugo Chávez Frías.  We met Hugo Chávez when he was campaigning for president in 1998 and The Carter Center was invited to observe elections for the first time in Venezuela.  We returned often, for the 2000 elections, and then to facilitate dialogue during the political conflict of 2002-2004.  We came to know a man who expressed a vision to bring profound changes to his country to benefit especially those people who had felt neglected and marginalized.  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.  During his 14-year tenure, Chávez joined other leaders in Latin America and the Caribbean to create new forms of integration.  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.

At the same time, we recognize the divisions created in the drive towards change in Venezuela and the need for national healing.  We hope that as Venezuelans mourn the passing of President Chávez and recall his positive legacies — especially the gains made for the poor and vulnerable — the political leaders will move the country forward by building a new consensus that ensures equal opportunities for all Venezuelans to participate in every aspect of national life.

As Allahpundit adds, “You outdid yourself on this one, Jimbo. I want to say ‘unbelievable,’ but no, it’s quite believable.”

Think Progress [sic] is reduced to reminding its core audience, “Why Democrats Shouldn’t Eulogize Hugo Chavez,” but there are plenty on the left more than willing to drop the mask today.

Such as the Nation, which really beclowns itself:

Chávez was a strongman. He packed the courts, hounded the corporate media, legislated by decree and pretty much did away with any effective system of institutional checks or balances. But I’ll be perverse and argue that the biggest problem Venezuela faced during his rule was not that Chávez was authoritarian but that he wasn’t authoritarian enough. It wasn’t too much control that was the problem but too little.

“I’m what they call a useful idiot when it comes to Hugo Chávez,” the writer actually adds. And how.

But hey, that’s the far left Nation. The neutral, objective, totally without bias Washington Post wouldn’t fall for such radical chic nonsense, would they?

Yes, of course they would: “Wash Post’s Eugene Robinson Appears on MSNBC to Praise ‘Quick,’ ‘Popular,’ Funny Hugo Chavez.”

And to think I was being ironic a couple of years ago when I titled a post “Studying the Washington Post Kremlinologist-Style.”

Update (5:38 PST): Sean Penn has a sad:

“Today the people of the United States lost a friend it never knew it had. And poor people around the world lost a champion.” says Penn in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “I lost a friend I was blessed to have. My thoughts are with the family of President Chavez and the people of Venezuela.”

Why is Paul Robeson’s 1953 memorial to Stalin the preferred template for Hollywood useful idiots whenever a totalitarian strongman dies?

Update (8:36 PM PST): The more things change with the dowager Gray Lady, the more they stay the same. 60 years after Stalin’s death, the paper employs the same hagiographic tone to worship yet another socialist tyrant: “New York Times reporters swoon over tyrant who silenced Venezuelan press.”