Red Ken Livingstone, who chaired the Chavez rally at town hall, dutifully assumes the position with a tract so broad it would embarrass the Daily Worker. Ian Buruma shakes his head and wonders how the left will outmaneuver the dreaded neocons when it’s saddled with so many thug-hugging fellow travelers:
One of the most vexing things for artists and intellectuals who live under the compulsion to applaud dictators is the spectacle of colleagues from more open societies applauding of their own free will. It adds a peculiarly nasty insult to injury… Hugo Chavez, the elected strongman of Venezuela, is the latest object of adulation by western “progressives” who return from jaunts in Caracas with stars in their eyes.
Hitchens anticipated the Chavez love-in a few weeks ago when he offered three explanations for “this horrid mutation of the left into a reactionary and nihilistic force.” Read it all, especially his closing broadside at the new popular front. Of which, let it be known, Chavez is most emphatically a member.
Update: Sanctions. It’s hard to take the idea that “you’re either with us or with the terrorists” completely seriously on a day when we’re restoring relations with Libya, but it’s comforting to know it still means something.
Meanwhile, in London:
[A] reporter for the BBC likened some comments of [Chavez’s] to Bush’s phrase, first delivered shortly after the September 11 terrorist attacks, “You are either with us or against us in the fight against terror.”
At that, Chavez erupted in anger about being “compared to the biggest genocide person alive, in the history of humanity, the president of the United States — killer, genocidal, immoral — who should be taken to prison by an international court. I don’t know to what you are referring when you compare me to President Bush.