Events this week showed that in the pantheon of heroes for America’s liberal elite Hugo Chavez was a pathetic D-lister. The Venezuelan buffoon never amassed even a teeeeeenzy fraction of Fidel Castro’s U.S. celebrity, tycoon and politician fan-base. OK, so Sean Penn, Oliver Stone, Michael Moore, Joe Kennedy, Rep. Jose Serrano all expressed admiration for Chavez upon his passing. Big deal!
Listing Fidel Castro's A-list celebrity, tycoon and politician fan-base would waste half of Townhall’s bandwith, on something easily found here.
The Republican National Committee scolded Democratic Rep. Serrano for his affectionate tweet to the dead Chavez. Good for them. But if the RNC applied the same standard to scolding Democratic affection for a live Fidel Castro they'd have time for nothing else. In fact, the RNC could start with some Republicans themselves, such as notorious Castro water-carrier Senator Jeff Flake.
Hugo Chavez was an authoritarian bully, a narcotrafficker, a thief and a buffoon. He wasn't a totalitarian mass-murderer, a mass-jailer and a mass-torturer who outlawed all political opposition under penalty of torture-chamber and firing squad and came within a hair of igniting a worldwide nuclear war, aimed first at destroying the U.S.
Despite his bluster and monkeyshines, this last point was never in Hugo Chavez’ bucket list. Indeed it was the last thing he wanted. Shusssssh -- keep this under your hat but the U.S. is -- by far -- the biggest customer for Venezuelan oil. Hugo Chavez was our fourth largest oil supplier.
Three years into power Castro had already murdered more political prisoners (out of a population of 6.5 million) than Hitler murdered (out of a population of 65 million) in his first six years. Ten years into power Castro had jailed and tortured at a higher rate than Stalin during his Great Terror. Fidel Castro’s lifelong dream is to destroy the U.S.--and came within a hair of it.
So given his teeeenzy attainments (by Castroite standards) in mass-murder, mass-torture, mass-terror and Anti-Americanism, its small surprise that Hugo Chavez amassed only a teeeeeenzy fraction of Castro’s affection from American liberals.
“VIVA FIDEL!”— “VIVA CHE GUEVARA!” yelled a beaming nominee for America’s dominant political party (Democrat, Jesse Jackson) in 1984, while arm in arm with the man who craved to nuke his nation.
“VIVAL FIDEL!” yelled ultra-influential U.S. Congressman (for America’s dominant political party) Charles Rangel right before rushing up and suffocating in a bear hug the man who had craved to nuke him. The scene was Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist Church in October 1995, where the very rafters shook from the thundering chants of “VIVA-FIDEL!—VIVA FIDEL!” issuing from a crowd that also included Maxine Waters.
"Castro is very shy and sensitive," revealed U.S. Senator (and “Conscience” of America’s dominant political party) George McGovern upon first meeting the man who craved to nuke the nation McGovern craved to run as President. "I frankly liked him (Fidel Castro)...I consider him a friend.”
“Fidel Castro could have been Cuba’s Elvis!” (Dan Rather.)
“Fidel Castro is one hell of a guy! “You people would like him!” (Ted Turner to a beaming crowd at Harvard Law School.)
“Fidel Castro is old-fashioned, courtly—even paternal, a thoroughly fascinating figure!” (Andrea Mitchell.)
"It was quite a moment to behold! Fidel Castro was very engaging and very energetic!" a hyperventilating Rep. Barbara Lee. (D-CA)
“Fidel Castro has brought very high literacy and great health-care to his country. His personal magnetism is powerful!” (Barbara Walters)
And on, and on, and on…
When Hugo Chavez visited the United Nations in 2006 and bad-mouthed President George Bush as “the devil,” “a cowboy,” etc. he was roundly denounced by President Bush’s most vocal Democratic opponents.
"You don't come into my country; you don't come into my congressional district and you don't condemn my president!" shot back a scowling Charles Rangel.
"He (Chavez) is an everyday thug," added the angry House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Chavez started his UN rant on the right foot. He held up a book by Noam Chomsky while blasting the U.S. His mentor Castro was undoubtedly nodding at the time: “Nice..very nice.”
But Hugo quickly got carried away and went off the rails, blasting Bush himself. “No, No, NO, Hugo!” Castro probably moaned with his face in his hands. “The beauty of this thing, Hugo, is that so many American leftists are so eager to echo our ravings that there's absolutely no need for us to mouth them ourselves, you IDIOT! It’s practically impossible to get Democrats riled up against a Latin Marxist – and here you've managed it, YOU IDIOT! Now look what you've done! Prominent Democrats – my historic allies – from Rangel to Pelosi are speaking against you! I've relied on such people to mouth or echo my ravings for decades, Hugo!”
For simply saying the U.N. "smelt of sulfur," Chavez was censured by prominent New Yorkers. After twice trying to make the entire city smell of charred flesh, his mentor, Fidel Castro, got a reception to shame Simon and Garfunkel's in Central Park.
When Fidel Castro visited New York in 1995 he was "The Toast of Manhattan!”, and wined and dined from Council on Foreign Relations to The Wall Street Journal with dozens of The Beautiful People lining up for his autograph. The jailer and torturer of the longest suffering black political prisoners in modern history was bear-hugged by Charles Rangel. The jailer and torturer of the most female political prisoner in the modern history of the western hemisphere was hugged and smooched by feminist Diane Sawyer. The jailer and torturer of the most journalists in the modern history of the Western hemisphere found everyone from Dan Rather to Mike Wallace to Tina Brown lining up for his autograph. The jailer and torturer who abolished private property within his Stalinist fiefdom found David Rockefeller and Mort Zuckerman crowding around him for a handshake.
The mass-murderer was not only the man "to see" but the one to be seen with.
Chavez was a cheap chump and clown. Maybe if he'd twice come within a hair of incinerating New York, he'd have been bestowed the proper cachet' -- and the city's elite would now be paying him the proper respect.
(An oh, regarding Hugo Chavez's death, while all the media and academic wizards and soothsayers were pussyfooting and using weasel-words, a Townhall columnist went on record on Canada's SunNews last Friday and categorically stated that: "All hope is gone for his survival -- Hugo Chavez will die within days." 4 days later Hugo was dead.)