Quico says: It's now an established talking point in the government's response to Sunday's referendum defeat: by "graciously" accepting he'd lost, Chávez put the lie to the opposition claim that he's some kind of crazy dictator. Like the democrat that he is, he "accepted the will of the people" and moved on...
Or did he?
This afternoon, Chávez turned up unannounced at the Military High Command's press conference and totally freaked out. Less than 72 hours after his "graceful" election night concession speech, the all too predictable Narcissistic Rage response began. He called the opposition's referendum win "a triumph made of shit," using the word "mierda" four times in two sentences on national TV. I mean, you know things have come to a head when Reuter's has to put the journalistic equivalent of a parental advisory at the start of its write up.
And I know everybody says Chávez doesn't drink but...well, you be the judge:
Ahhhh...profound reflection, thine homes are many.
Before this point, he'd hinted that the No side hadn't really won the referendum, but said he'd been graceful enough not to demand the complete tally count that might have nudged his side to victory. He skewered the journalist who reported he had "been pressured" by the Defense Minister to accept defeat, Hernán Lugo Galicia, calling his reporting (wait for it) shit. And then, the cherry on top: he vowed to come right back and propose pretty much the same constitutional reform to the voters all over again.
Even more than the expletives, that last part is the real insult to the Venezuelan people. The electorally suicidal decision to put the same, loser reform in front of the voters again speaks volumes about how shallow Chávez's commitment to democracy really is. Because "accepting the results" doesn't mean simply accepting the brute numerical fact that the other side has more votes than your side. It means accepting the political consequences that follow from the result.
On Sunday, the will of what Chávez used to call the Sovereign People was clear: keep your reforms out of our constitution. In any event, the constitutions article 345 explictly bars him from from putting the same proposal for constitutional reform to the people for a second time in the same term of office. A politician with a sounder grasp of reality might take the message, but the layers of abject sycophancy now insulating the president from the world around him have grown so thick, he's no longer able to make even minimally sensible decisions.
Chávez is treating his referendum defeat the way I might treat failing a driver's license test: it's embarrassing, sure, but no biggie. I just try again a few months later. Even if I failed the first test "fair and square", there's no question of giving up. After all, I need a driver's license.
The only difference is that, as far as Chávez can see, he wasn't the one who failed the exams, it was the voters who goofed. His message to them? "Wrong answer! Go back and vote better next time!" That's not respecting the will of the people, that's deepest, darkest contempt for the will of the people.
Seriously, the guy is loony tunes...