The night of his death, Rachel Maddow had Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson on her program to discuss Chávez. She asked Robinson in a voice heavy with sarcasm whether Hugo Chávez was really “the monster” he was made out to be. Robinson explained that Chávez bonded with the poor and had lots of popular support. Maddow very gently prodded Robinson to address criticisms of Chávez for not advancing freedom, “even as he did advance economic populist aims.”

Unable to muster any of the denunciatory venom he lavishes on Republicans once or twice a week, Robinson issued forth with a strangely tortured construction, “he was not what we would call a lover of democracy as we would like to see it practiced.” Eric Cantor must wonder why Robinson doesn’t similarly mute his criticisms of him. Robinson noted that Chávez gerrymandered electoral districts, but, hey, “that happens elsewhere as well.” All in all, he was … “a man of contradictions.” You know, like Disraeli or Gladstone.

Goodbye, Hugo Chávez. All your friends who got to admire your authoritarian savvy and gross economic mismanagement from a safe distance will miss you very much.