Who could possibly have seen this coming? Answer: Anyone who's remotely paying attention.
With both presidents facing tight re-election fights, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez gave a surprise endorsement to Barack Obama on Sunday - and said the U.S. leader no doubt felt the same. "I hope this doesn't harm Obama, but if I was from the United States, I'd vote for Obama," the socialist Chavez said of a man he first reached out to in 2009 but to whom he has since generally been insulting. Chavez is running for a new six-year term against opposition challenger Henrique Capriles, while Obama seeks re-election in November against Republican candidate Mitt Romney. Venezuela's election is next weekend. "Obama is a good guy ... I think that if Obama was from Barlovento or some Caracas neighborhood, he'd vote for Chavez," the president told state TV, referring to a poor coastal town known for the African roots of its population.
Chavez even has the American Left's talking points down pat:
Chavez was back in a conciliatory mood in a TV interview with friend and former vice president Jose Vicente Rangel. "After our triumph and the supposed, probable triumph of President Obama, with the extreme right defeated here and there, I hope we could start a new period of normal relations with the United States," he said. "Obama recently said something very rational and fair ... that Venezuela is no threat to the interests of the United States," he added.
Has Chavez been coached up by Chuck Schumer? And what about Obama's "very rational and fair" assessment of Venezuela's position on the world stage? The notion that Caracas poses no "serious" threat to US interest might come as news to some:
Chavez [is] not just destroying democracy in Venezuela but [has] turned the country into a base for international terror, a money laundering center for FARC narco-terrorists while also undermining U.S. sanctions on Syria. Rubio also mentioned that Chavez’s consul general in Miami was expelled on Obama’s watch for links to cyber attacks on the United States. But Rubio neglected to mention that Venezuela has become one of Iran’s leading trading partners and diplomatic allies and an obstacle to what the president has said is one of his key foreign policy objectives in stopping their nuclear program. If all that hasn’t “had a serious national security impact” on the United States, what is there Venezuela could do, short of start a shooting war, to ruffle the president’s feathers?
Even Left-leaning human rights organizations have documented Chavez's systematic destruction of Venezuela's democratic institutions, and Britan's Left-wing Guardian newspaper renders this judgment as the socialist would-be autocrat faces a very tough re-election battle:
On closer inspection, the only thing that appears to be 21st century about Chávez's 21st-century socialism is the presidential Twitter account. The economy is still run along the same rigid lines that crippled eastern bloc economies for much of the 20th century. One after another, industries have been nationalised only to become outsized money-pits unable to produce the goods needed. The steel and cement industries can't produce enough to meet the country's housing needs; electric utilities have brought chronic blackouts throughout the country; and the phone company has failed to deliver adequate internet access. Venezuelans like to joke that Julian Assange passed over Venezuela for political asylum simply because the internet is so slow there. That Venezuela's economy doesn't grind to a halt, Zimbabwe style, amid the waste, corruption and mismanagement of incompetent central planning is down to a single word: oil.
Socialism fails wherever it's attempted, but Venezuela's socialistic strong man sees a mutually-respectful kindred spirit in Barack Obama. Interesting. I'll leave you with a partial list of other international Obama endorsements: Former KGB operative and illegitimate Russian president Vladimir Putin (whom Obama congratulated on his electoral "win" in March), France's socialist president (who just pushed through a top tax rate of 75 percent), the Communist Chinese government (indirectly, via attacks on Mitt Romney through the official state ministry of propaganda), and a spokesman for the terrorist group Hamas (David Axelrod said the Obama campaign was "flattered" by Hamas' words of support):
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography