Blogging from Tucson, Arizona….
I guess if the Leader of the Free World can be a rather laughable character like George W. Bush it is only fitting that the man who pretends to be his global antagonist is himself a cartoon character.
If one ever had doubts that Hugo Chavez is at best an intellectual mediocrity (if not a thug) they should forever be confirmed by his speech Wednesday before the United Nations. I’m not going to bother to reproduce any excerpts here. You can read the whole rant in the link provided.
Suffice it to say it was juvenile showboating of the worst kind. And while it was chock full of applause and laugh lines as Chavez ripped at Bush, the Empire, the Fascists, the Assassins, the Israelis and the UN itself, it was — in the end– a completely vapid exercise. What sort of moral vision or leadership of behalf of the world’s poor was voiced by the blustering buffoon of Caracas?
All I know is that if I were George W. Bush and was worried what the world thought of me, I would quickly choose Chavez as the guy to represent the global opposition. In any case, Chavez’s performance is likely to backfire. His declaration that the UN is “worthless” is not likely to galvanize support for Venezuela’s quest to win one of the rotating seats on the Security Council.
Chavez’ stand-up routine unfortunately overshadowed a truly resonant speech made from the same rostrum by Brazilian President Lula da Silva. Compare the two speeches and you’ll immediately note the difference. One is a gusting clown. The other a mensch. Too bad the former sucks up the limelight. If you find yourself applauding Chavez, better check in the mirror and make sure you haven’t become some sort of trained seal.
P.S. As an additional point of comparison, I offer this link to the dramatic speech made before the UN in December 1972 by then-Chilean President Salvador Allende. Allende also came to denounce the injustice his country was suffering at the hands of the powerful, something he called the “invisible blockade.” I had the privilege of translating that speech for publication in English. Unfortunately, I can’t find that version and the one I’m linking to is a more awkward take by a different translator. But Allende’s intelligence, his poise, his stature still starkly emerge through the mists of time and the shrouds of poor translation.