Yesterday, I argued that Rosales's candidacy is doomed. I still think that. But it could be wrong. And here's one reason why:
Chavez has been an electoral juggernaut since 1998 largely because he's had his finger firmly on the pulse of the Venezuelan electorate all along, intuiting the dynamics that drive public opinion far better than his opponents. Arguably, though, that knack is starting to buckle under the accumulated weight of his megalomania.
For starters, the guy doesn't spend much more time in Venezuela than I do. His interests have shifted more and more to the international arena, which most of his poor supporters couldn't care less about. As Tal Cual pointed out yesterday, Chavez is now trying to tar Rosales as a US lackey, not an old regime holdover. But, of course, while most Venezuelans positively detest the old regime, they have moderate to positive views of the US.
All of which means Chavez may have decided to sling the wrong kind of mud at Rosales. Increasingly out of touch with the people who nominally support him, his support could turn out to be shallower than I figure.
Frankly, I can see the logic to this type of argument, but don't ultimately buy it. Why? Because Chavez still has a few billion dollars worth of oil revenue up his sleeve to patch up his problems with. And petropopulist spending on that scale goes a long way towards soothing the feelings bruised by his globetrotting megalomania.