September 22, 2006
Rep. Charlie Rangel, that charming, gravel-voiced rascal who represents Harlem section of New York City, took exception to Hugo Chavez's off-the-wall insults of President Bush at the U.N. on Wednesday. Well, good for him! As the congressman explains on his Web site:
I feel that I must speak out now since the Venezuelan government has been instrumental in providing oil at discounted prices to people in low income communities who have suffered increases in rent as heating oil prices have risen sharply.
In other words, Rangel was motivated to speak out because he fears that his low-income constituents may be susceptible to subversive bribery. Chavez walked the streets of Harlem trumpeting his cheap heating oil program, a stunning display of effrontery after what he said at the U.N. For Rangel, that was going too far. Too bad it had to take such an extreme statement of Bush hatred to elicit a modest gesture of patriotism. Even so, Rangel felt compelled to qualify his denunciation by drawing an implicit -- and wrong-headed -- parallel between Bush's characterization of rogue regimes as an "Axis of Evil" and the "diabolical" name-calling by Chavez. Well, at least grave external threats do serve to forge bonds of national unity.
I noticed that Chavez endorsed Noam Chomsky's book, Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance to back up his assertion that Bush acts like he owns the planet. How fitting that one fringe kook endorses another. See foxnews.com. I think Rush Limbaugh was correct to point out that the mainstream media (WaPo, NYT) purposefully downplayed Chavez's remarks, relegating the story to the middle of Section A rather than the front page where it belonged. Such news should send warning bells across the country that a real menace is in our midst.
I wonder how many Catholics in his country and elsewhere were offended by the mock-pious way Chavez crossed himself while calling Bush the Devil? He may be skating on thin ice in terms of popular support.