After the righteous outrage from the right over anyone wishing ill of their heroes or dissing their memory, that part of the political spectrum is today home to an awful lot of tongue biting as the passing of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez brings the temptation to jump for joy at the fall of one of their most feared bogeymen. This mood is epitomised by the unoriginal group blog The Commentator.
Gone but not forgotten ... Hugo Chávez
Yes, the Spectator has Coffee House, and The Commentator has ... The Tea Room. Validation of the tired but true adage “you pay peanuts, you get monkeys” was never more succinctly demonstrated. And what’s with “We rely on your support to exist”? Why does a group blog need folks to throw money at it in order to function? But, as Clive James might have said, I digress.
The Commentator’s Chávez hatchet job has been penned by Raheem “call me Ray” Kassam, who asserts “I have myself seen classified documents that appear to show Chavez’s plans for military deployment in the unlikely event that his vote-rigging in the 2012 election went wrong”. Appear to show, eh, Ray? Give us all a good laugh and publish them. You won’t be doing that any time soon.
The idea that Venezuela’s elections have been rigged has approximately zero credibility: even the conservative mainstream, typified by former Dubya Bush insider David Frum, has abandoned that meme after successive contests have been called as “free and fair” by international observers (Frum concentrates instead on accusing Chávez of “vote buying”).
What the right cannot get into its head is that, whatever wacky ideas Chávez may have expounded in discussion with visitors, he was a genuinely popular leader. That it was not difficult for right-wingers to find significant numbers opposed to Chávez does not invalidate that fact: no regime enjoys 100% popularity, despite what some genuinely totalitarian Governments might like to pretend.
And what is also uncomfortable for the right is that Chávez epitomised a new wave of South American leaders: ferociously independent and not necessarily prepared to look to the United States for approval. Whether that is a good or bad thing I do not judge, but it is a fact of today’s geopolitical world. It is also what causes Ray and his pals significant discomfort.
Heck, even as currently acting President Nicolas Maduro announces new elections within 30 days, Ray and his pals will still complain. And they’ll keep on whingeing unless the next election delivers the result they demand. Meanwhile, the legacy of Hugo Chávez will endure, as South America transforms itself into the next area of significant economic growth.
That’s the way the world is, right-wingers. You’ll just have to get over it.