Monday, November 12, 2007

When a King Finally Has Enough, and Other Ruminations

I was reading the final pound of the Washington Post yesterday evening when I ran across a story about a summit meeting of Latin American leaders, plus the leaders of Spain and Portugal. The Prime Minister of Spain, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, had used part of his allotted speaking time to politely urge Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez to be more respectful and diplomatic in his comments about other leaders, to the applause of the assembled delegates. Chavez, for his part, kept trying to interrupt Mr Zapatero - unsuccessfully, as it turned out, because his microphone had been turned off. Finally, King Juan Carlos of Spain, who was sitting next to Mr Chavez, had had enough. He turned to Mr Chavez and bluntly said, "Why don't you shut up?"

I suppose Mr Chavez is fortunate that we no longer live in a world in which kings tell those who displease them to shut up, rather than dragging them off to be beheaded. And you have to admire King Juan Carlos, despite his undiplomatic comment, because it's high time someone told that odious buffoon to put a sock in it.

You don't have to like George Bush (and I don't) to have been offended when Hugo Chavez gave a speech at the UN in which he ostentatiously sniffed the air and noted that it smelled of brimstone after Mr Bush's speech. Like him or not, Mr Bush is the elected president of a great nation, and deserves respect for his position, if not for his policies. Mr Chavez, too, is the elected president of a great nation, but you wouldn't know it from his moronic pronouncements and routine insults directed at other leaders.

It's fine to be a populist and to play to your home audience. In his own clownish way, Mr Chavez expresses the frustrations and aspirations of many people in Latin America. But does he do them a service by making himself a laughingstock in the larger world? I doubt it. He probably views himself as a straight-talking statesman, not understanding (or caring) that he comes across as a petulant jerk. He does not serve the people of Venezuela well with his grandstanding, and the damage he is doing to the Bolivarian philosophy he professes to follow will last for a long time. If ever an emperor had no clothes, it's Hugo Chavez.

A few other short, unrelated thoughts for a quiet holiday morning:

Edyta Sliwinska dances again tonight on Dancing with the Stars, but not with me. Sigh.

An interesting and useful quote from Fred Hoyle: "There is a coherent plan for the universe, though I don't know what it's a plan for." I believe this is related to the famous Ashleigh Brilliant observation that "I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days attack me at once."

One of the entries which received an honorable mention in this week's "Style Invitational" contest in the Washington Post responded to a request to propose hypothetical mergers of existing companies: "Halliburton merges with Blackwater to form 'Allied Casualty.'" I love it!

That's all for now. Have a good day. More thoughts coming.



The Mistress of the Dark said...

I think I would have liked to see Chavez sniffing the air. I imagine it's hard to give our presidential bozo the clown any respect when you know he is in fact, bozo the clown.

Sue said...

"Mr Bush is the elected president'

I beg to differ.

I could lament about how John Kerry got more popular votes than any candidate in history... but I digress.

John A Hill said...

Chavez is a jerk. I wonder how sales at CITGO have been since his comments. I've heard he's changing the name so that Americans will start buying his gas again.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Chavez seems happy to live like an American, but is fast to criticise.

Bilbo said...

Well, it looks as if we share a low opinion of the president. Sue, you are correct in that Mr Bush won the election in the courts instead of at the ballot box, but that's a sad bit of past history...we're stuck with him now. But my point remains: you may dislike the man, but the office commands respect, even though it's prestige has been diminished by the current occupant. The only consolation is that Mr Chavez makes George Bush look positively statesmanlike by comparison...yea though they may both be bozos.