Perspectives from the Jewish Right: Albom vs. Jacoby
Mitch Albom writes that our passivity is what separates us from them - that no matter how much Chavez and Ahmadinejad insult us on our own soil (read: U.N.), if we retaliate by silencing those who spread cruel hate and propaganda, then "[w]e'd lose the feeling that we are the good guys."
I do give him credit for taking a very difficult stance - that we shouldn't give him the cold shoulder and that freedom of speech is something we shouldn't deny anyone.
But wasn't that the same kind of free speech (read: New York Times) that blew Valerie's cover and revealed the wiretapping, Guantanamo and Haditha?
I think so.
And I also think that us, the American people, choosing silence, is akin to assistint the Press and Democrats in their effort to discredit the Iraq war and the Bush administration. And Albom thinks that we can only convince ourselves we are the good guys if we tell ourselves to shut up and let dictators get their say?
I wouldn't stand for that for one minute. Even in writing this blog post I am defying Albom's requisite to national self-confidence, because Albom, whom I respect and who I believe has the best of intentions has, this time, got it wrong.
Fortunately, Jeff Jacoby has a better, far more accurate perspective. First, though Pelosi's words don't pass Charles Johnson's test, Jacoby acknowledges that she's managed to "r[i]se above party politics" with her words in defense of the president.
Then he cuts straight to the chase.
"...his potential for troublemaking is no joke. He is a shrewd strategic thinker who hungers for glory and sees a showdown with the United States as his ticket into the history books. Accordingly, he denounces the American "empire" at every opportunity and goes out of his way to cultivate relationships with America's enemies."
Jacoby then lays down the gavel:
"He made a point, for example, of visiting Saddam Hussein when the Iraqi dictator was under international sanctions, and he has cozied up to Iran's theocrats and Moammar Qaddafi of Libya. He is an avid protégé of Fidel Castro, and has in turn served as mentor and patron to other anti-Yanqui Latin American presidents, such as Argentina's Néstor Kirchner and Bolivia's Evo Morales . According to Thor Halvorssen of the Human Rights Foundation, Chavez has armed, financed, and provided safe haven to members of FARC, the Colombian narcoterrorists. He has even lavished praise on Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, the Venezuelan-born terrorist known as Carlos the Jackal."
"But Chavez, who went to prison in 1992 after trying to overthrow Venezuela's democratic government, has more in mind than striking obnoxious poses. As Franklin Foer noted in The Atlantic last spring, Chavez "speaks incessantly about the coming military confrontation with the gringos." He has ordered his armed forces to study the Iraqi insurgency and prepare to mount a similar resistance if Venezuela is invaded. "He has begun organizing citizen militias, purchased 100,000 new Kalashnikovs, and assigned books on asymmetric warfare to his top brass." When Foer asked Nicolas Maduro, now Venezuela's foreign minister, what Chavez foresees in US-Venezuelan relations, he answered: "Conflict, in all likelihood war, is the future."
Oh, yes...incriminating evidence. Or it should be (and I mean it when I say it).
And that details Chavez before his election.
The new charge: Chavez "in just eight years has managed to transform Venezuela from a stable social democracy into an increasingly authoritarian state in which he controls every lever of state power."
"In 1999, for example, Chavez engineered a new constitution that eliminated the Venezuelan Senate and made it easier to pass legislation in the remaining one-chamber National Assembly. Congressional oversight of the military was ended, along with the rule requiring presidents to step down after one term.
He has taken control of the agency that certifies election results and of the huge state-owned oil company, the source of most government revenue. He secured a new law empowering the government to supervise the media, and another authorizing the arrest of any citizen showing "disrespect" to government officials. He got the Supreme Court enlarged from 20 to 32 justices, then packed the new slots with loyal supporters."
Now, don't get me wrong...I think Albom's a well-meaning guy. But even well-meaners can make bad assertions. I think most American's would have something to say about Chavez' "presidency."
And I think they have every right to say it.