October 11, 2006

Making a believer out of me...

Here's the TV version of Hugo's Love Offensive.

This one, I think, is much worse than the print version. The forced smile. The awkward reading. The gawd-awful music in the beginning. The entire thing is just so incongrous, so gringo-consultant-style, so jarringly out-of-synch with everything that's come before. Really, it's very strange.

I'm still baffled about who exactly the ad is aimed at, but I guess we can reason it out by process of elimination. His hardcore base likes his fire-breathing style - they're not buying this. NiNis were never really invested emotionally with Chávez - he has no love to rekindle with them. And his opponents? It'll only anger them.

So who's left? Transactional chavistas: poor people who were never ideologically aligned with Chávez, but did have a strong emotional bond with him and appreciated his government's handouts. And, in particular, transactional chavista women.

If that's the case, if Chavez is worried enough about losing transactional chavista women's votes to recast his entire campaign to appeal to them, that is very good news for Rosales indeed. Because they have held the key to victory all along: without poaching at least a few transactionals, the numbers just don't add up to 50%+1 for Rosales.

However you interpret the reasons behind Chávez's dramatic change of campaign strategy, though, it's hard to avoid the impression that the guy is seriously worried now. Candidates just do not make message U-Turns on this scale when everything is honky-dory and they're cruising to victory. No way.

Because, lets be clear: the U-Turn couldn't be more complete. There is a wide abyss between "10 millones por el buche" and "Vote for me because I love you." There's just no way to square those two (Por amor por el buche?) Will the chavistas who loved Macho Man Chavez stay on board for the new, fuzzy, touchy feely Chavez? Is the switch even credible at this point? I really doubt it...