Friday, November 23, 2007

A Thanksgiving Day Smackdown

I was surprisingly tickled yesterday!

I consider holidays like Thanksgiving to be political truce days among bloggers. So I was caught off guard by
Michael Van Der Galien's decisively penetrating takedown of Libby Spencer's recent post pumping up Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez.

Ms. Libby's the publisher of an extremely hard-left Bush-bashing blog,
The Impolitic. In my previous blogging persona I used to regularly visit there, attacking Ms. Libby for her outlandish diatribes against the administration, the war, and anything else under the conservative sun.

Ms. Libby's post yesterday, "
Loving Chavez," was published at her co-blogging site, The Newshoggers (whose main publisher Cernig has delusions of foreign policy expertise, but that's another story).

After a rambling introduction about how she's been to Venezuela, and how well she knows the Venezuelan people (blah, blah), and how Chavez's consolidation of dictatorial power comes amid "significant support among the majority of that nation's poor," Ms. Libby got down to her main point:

Whatever you think of Chavez and his admittedly abrasive style, the majority of his people love him. It strikes me that all this talk about his tyranny is more than a little misplaced considering Venezuelans have more of a voice in their government than we do under Bush.
I didn't respond at the post, as I was temporarily banned from the comments by The Newshoggers for my relentless and unassailable attacks on the blog's anti-Americanism and irrationalism. That's where Van Der Galien comes in. He's provided a precise riposte to Ms. Libby's authoritarian sympathizing:

At The Newshoggers, Libby writes: “Now I don’t want to get into a debate over whether Chavez is crazy, or a communist or pursuing the right policies for Venezuela. I honestly don’t know the answer to that, but I do know that he is a democratically elected leader who still enjoys significant support among the majority of that nation’s poor.” And, more importantly to the left, of course: “These are the people who take to the streets to protest Chavez and his programs to help his country’s poor and in a way one can understand their hatred for him. Chavez, whom they consider to be an upstart meztito, has instituted socialist policies that have redistributed the wealth and power more equally and it came at their expense.”

To top it off, she also compares Chavez to Bush: “It strikes me that all this talk about his tyranny is more than a little misplaced considering Venezuelans have more of a voice in their government than we do under Bush.”

Now that is misplaced. Lord knows I respect Libby and consider her a friend, but she’s way out there on this one.

Firstly, it does matter whether Chavez is a wannabe dictator or not.

Secondly, he’s amassing so much power that it’s already difficult to say whether the majority truly supports his reforms or not.

Thirdly, whether oppression is supported by the majority or not, doesn’t make it any more acceptable. Many Germans supported the Nazis for instance.

Fourthly, comparing Bush to Chavez and then concluding that citizens have more influence under Chavez’s rule than under Bush’s presidency is utterly ridiculous and it says tons about your prejudice and lack of ability to understand nuances if you argue that it is worse under Bush than under Chavez. Bush has yet to close down newspapers or networks that are critical of him for instance.

Fifthly, it never ceases to amaze me that for all the talk about freedom, many progressives actually only care about one thing: distribution of wealth. It’s not truly about freedom (if it were, they would constantly celebrate America where people are still more free than anywhere else in the world, yes really) at all. They only use ‘freedom’ when it suits their agenda.

Sixthly, the reason many progressives continue to support Chavez is that he’s anti-capitalism, anti classical liberalism and anti-America. In other words, Chavez’s enemies are the enemies of many progressives. As we all know, the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

It’s the same everywhere: in Europe and America, the driving forces of the progressive ideologies are the same.

Quite troubling.

Again, I respect Libby, but progressives shouldn’t make the mistake of defending Chavez. Ever.
Michael's too nice, I would argue. Ms. Libby needed the smackdown, so it's none too soon. But what followed the exchange was even more interesting. Rather than defend her position, Ms. Libby wrote the lamest retraction imaginable, where she states:

I am not saying that I personally love Chavez. I don't. But his people do and who knows why? I think the guy is kind of crazy and I don't think he should be president for life but my understanding is, the referendum will extend the term of the presidency from 6 to 7 years and eliminate term limits. The people will vote and decide. That's not really the same thing as declaring a dictatorship, is it?
Well, actually it is. Venezuelan elections are not free and fair. The Chavez regime intimidates the opposition, and the support he does have has been manufactured through social policy largesse and manipulation of the nation's media. His anti-American foreign policy follows a long line of opportunistic Latin American caudillos railing against the Yanqui hegemon to the north. On the eve of the December 2 referendum, the growing activity of the Venezuelan opposition has called into question the notion of overwhelming popular support.

Besides Ms. Libby's quick backtracking, she also visited another blog highlighting her stupidity to mount a lame disclaimer (Blue Crab Boulevard's "
Defending The Indefensible"):

You misread the intent of my post Gaius, as did many others. I updated so I’m not going to repeat the explanation, but in no way should that post be taken as advocating for Chavez’ policies.
How utterly spineless and completely preposterous!

I already despise Ms. Libby (and I don't say that lightly, as I tend to avoid
the type of political hatred common on the left). But let's get real: Nobody misread the post. Ms. Libby is an unreconstructed neo-Marixt who never tires of slandering the Bush administration. She calls the United States a police state. She backs the international policies of America's enemies and supports the collapse of U.S. sovereignty through an open-borders immigration policy.

Ms. Libby also refuses to recognized the danger from Iran's foreign policy of Middle East revanchism, and when challenged,
she just throws up her hands, and throws out ad hominem attacks.

Recall how I mentioned Van Der Galien's too nice? Well, he's a right-of-center blogger who's got career aspirations in online media (as far as I can tell). He's not out to ruffle any feathers. His blog's popular too, getting a lot of prominent play at Memeorandum. A former co-editor at the disastrously non-moderate "
Moderate Voice," he's got power over folks like the fawning Ms. Libby. One critical word and she'll be high-tailing back to her keyboard to disclaim her nihilist views, lest the hits on her Sitemeter drop to deeper lows of marginalization and ignominy.

That's not how I blog. Political blogging is hardball. I defend my positions and I don't curry favor. If I make a mistake I'll say so, not to maintain shameless networking ties in the political blogosphere, but to uphold my commitment to integrity. That commitment's clearly absent in the cowardly anti-Americanism of Ms. Libby Spencer.