Hate Caracas Chronicles lately? Guess what, so does everybody else! After a bloody barrage of abuse aimed at my recent editorial line - the disgruntled readers' version of shock and awe - I thought I'd ask one of my most loyal, crankiest readers to post a kind of Why CC Sucks Greatest Hits.
Escualidus Arrechus says: Lately, what used to be a brilliantly insightful blog on Venezuelan politics, has degenerated into a premature funeral procession for Manuel Rosales, the Venezuelan opposition, or both, depending on the mood that takes our fearless leaders. Depending on your degree of participation in the comments section, you may or may not be aware of how pissy this has made everybody. My job, I guess, is to give you the highlights.
Mind you, this isn't an attack on internal criticism within the opposition, or even a call against making such criticisms in public. If the opposition fell into that m. o., we'd be no better than chavismo itself. But there's "self-criticism", and then there's the borderline suicidal ramblings Quico and Katy have been feeding us of late. I don't even entirely disagree with them, and I'm by no means a blinders-on Rosales booster. But the defeatist funk has been steadily increasing over the past few days, and something's gotta give.
As far as I can tell, there're four key talking points in the Caracas Chronicles “Suicide is Painless” prom theme for 2006:
1. “Rosales is fighting a losing battle. The polls say so, and Lord knows they're infallible”. Now, Rosales might very well lose on December 3rd. But the fervor with which Quico clings to the almighty polls is only comparable to, well, the fervor with which some in the opposition reject them. Neither one is particularly rational. Every time a poll is exposed as suspicious or downright rubbish, Quico points to his favorite, most trusted pollsters, whose results match those of the disgraced pollster du jour. Well, Quiquete, does that mean the pollster with the shoddy methodology and/or sampling was actually right, or does it perhaps mean that there's something rotten at the source? The best methodology in the world is useless without quality data, and that's become harder and harder to find in Venezuela lately.
The polls could very well be correct (personally, I think Rosales has a fighting chance, polls be damned), and Chavez could still enjoy the approval of half the population. But I'd rather not lick my wounds before the battle is waged. I want campaign strategy, not eulogies while I'm still alive.
2. “Rosales is doomed because he's surrounded himself with remnants of La Cuarta”. This is personal sour grapes masquerading as political analysis. Quico has a long-documented distaste for the old political class, dismissing it as a single entity, a strategy reminiscent of the one Chavez used to sell the electorate on his constituyente. And it's the trait of his that gets my goat the most. He's taken Chavez's half-assed politics and made them his own. It's almost as though he feels he's a true moderate by conceding the enemy's got a point. No, Quico, it just means you're easily manipulated by leftist guilt.
3. “The Venezuelan private media justifies Chavez's attacks when they shamelessly give extensive coverage to Rosales' rallies”. A lovely sentiment, and one I can agree with to a degree. The private media, and Globovision in particular, can be viciously anti-Chavez, and their open bias could negatively influence swing voters. But to leave it at that is to engage in shallow analysis that brings nothing to the table. In a country where the “public” TV network is a stronghold of government propaganda, where newspapers are hit through the denial of foreign currency for supplies purchases, where TV stations are routinely raided and “investigated”, the conditions for healthy journalism are shot. The Venezuelan media is fighting for its life under this administration, and any analysis that ignores that, is incomplete, and hopelessly naive.
4. “Chavez is authoritarian, sure, but totalitarian? Nah. Drop the hysteria”. Must be nice to live in a country where you can wax poetic about the differences between the terms. Chavez is certainly not a totalitarian hegemon, but not for lack of trying. It may sound like a cheap shot, but I honestly believe their distance from home has erased Quico and Katy's memories of life with a president that regularly calls you the enemy. Los tiros? Ya sabemos por donde van. Don't try to tell me Chavez is “all talk, he'd never go that far”. He has, and will again at the first chance.
I don't want Quico, Katy, or Whatshisface to stop writing. Hell, I don't want them to stop writing critically, at that. But I do want them to stop mourning the living. Prepare to storm the beach, kids, 'cause the fight hasn't even begun. If we lose, I want to lose after running our opponent bloody ragged. I want him to hit the mat right after us. If he beats us, let it be the worst Pyrrhic victory of all time. Throwing in the towel before the fight begins is not an option. Atrevete.