May 14, 2006

Dissociated Opposition Chronicles

Nothing is quite so obnoxious as seeing the Opposition confirm, through its behavior, bits of overheated chavista rhetorical vilification. The classic one here is the charge of "dissociation" - of a deep disconnect with the new sociopolitical realities of the country. The charge has always been part truth, part overheated rhetoric. Now and then, though, an Opposition figure makes a move so aggressively ill-conceived, so psychotically detatched from political realities clearly visible even from an ocean away, that I can only shake my head in staggered disbelief.

Yesterday, former Táchira governor Sergio Omar Calderón - perhaps best described as a second-tier provincial ancien regime dinosaur with a quadruple common-sense bypass and the electoral appeal of a neutered chihuahua - threw his hat into the presidential ring representing - wait for it - COPEI, a political party that Calderón - alarmingly - seems to believe still exists.

That Calderón - or, indeed, the skeletal remains of COPEI - could be so fantastically cut-off from political reality to think the guy could actually make a credible candidate (let alone have a chance of actually beating Chavez) demonstrates such awesome inanity, such an aggressively warped misunderstanding of contemporary Venezuelan politics you can only hang your head in despair.

And here we come back to a fundamental, festering, unaddressed problem with the entire Opposition political class - one I've mentioned before: there is no mechanism to induce a Venezuelan politician to retire, to change occupations, to just plain stop hanging around fouling up the public sphere once they're past their sell-by date.

For the love of christ, RAFAEL CALDERA (who was already graying when he met Allende) is still writing newspaper columns - SEVENTY FOUR YEARS into his political career. (Watch for him to launch his campaign on the Convergencia ticket any time now - la propia generación de relevo.)

Pardon my exasperation, but it's maddening. They simply don't stop. They stay in the public sphere for years or decades after they've become a liability. There's no getting rid of them.

OK, just wanted to get that off my chest...