September 2, 2007

Chávez vs. Chávez

Chávez says: “It's not true that I have a plan to perpetuate myself in power, and the proposal [for indefinite re-election] made by [then] Assembly member Luis Velásquez Alvaray, though surely it was made in good faith, I must say I don't share it, nor do I back it, and I'm sure that you, most of those who follow me, agree with me on this."

This was Chávez back in September 2004, according to his own Miraflores press flunkies. They note that he said that two terms of six-year is enough, and that cycling through leaders is important, particularly because he didn't seek to be an indispensable caudillo. "I am neither a caudillo, nor indispensable," he said.

Of course, like anyone else, Chávez is entitled to change his mind. There's no reason why he shouldn't be able to say, "hey, I used to be against indefinite re-election, for such and such a reason. Having thought more carefully about it, and in light of new circumstances, I've changed my mind. From now on, I have decided that I am a caudillo and/or indispensible, for this and this reason." I mean, if you're going to flip flop, do it honestly.

But, as Rory Carroll found out, that's not the way he's playing it. Having erased (in some cases, literally) his previous stance from the historical record, now he flies into a narcissist hissy fit when someone makes the exact same points he used to make. He hints darkly about their allegiance to foreign powers, blusters at length against them without addressing the substance of their points, and all without ever betraying the slightest whiff of understanding, the most oblique hint of self-awareness about the scale of the rhetorical U Turn involved.

I hate to be repetitive, but it's important to recognize it clearly: the problem here is only tangentially about politics. The guy is mental.

That's not a right-wing thing to say or a left-wing thing to say. Faced with this kind of behavior, it's as close to a plain statement of fact as it's possible to elaborate.

[Hat tip to feathers for an excellent catch.]