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Saturday, January 5, 2008

Joe Kennedy: Bad Politics And Even Worse Judgement

Have you seen the TV commercials where Joe Kennedy is touting "free" heating oil from the "people" of Venezuela? I have, and they are an insult to the intelligence of anyone who knows the first thing about Latin American politics. In the middle of the ad, Kennedy says, "Some people would call this bad politics." Well, Joe, I am one of those who calls it bad politics and I will go one step further and call it even worse judgement on his part.

And I am not alone in my assessment. Writing for TownHall.com, Mona Charen has the following to say:

So let's see, the poor should accept charity from a would-be dictator who has formed an alliance with Iran and Cuba, who has denounced the United States as the greatest threat to peace and security in the world and called the U.S. president "the devil" and "a genocidal murderer." They should permit themselves to be used by a man who attempted to subvert his country's constitution, proclaimed his goal as "socialism or death," and launched the most comprehensive assault on freedom of the press in Latin America this side of Castro?

"Our good [friend] in Venezuela" just last month suffered a key rebuke from his own people when he attempted to amend the constitution. Chavez's proposed "reforms" would have permitted him to serve for life, ended the autonomy of the central bank, permitted the president to rule by decree, and given him broad powers to suspend civil liberties and seize private property under indefinite states of emergency. A broad spectrum of Venezuelan society united to oppose this "constitutional coup" and narrowly defeated the measure. With his characteristic good grace, Chavez called it a "s---t victory."

And that's not even the worst part. Read this:

How can Mr. Kennedy reconcile the fact that Chavez has in the past pushed OPEC to reduce output to increase prices which affects all Americans, but the poor most of all -- with his pose as Mr. Bountiful? Gosh, is that the act of someone who truly cares about the world's poor?

That's right. Chavez pushed to market price of oil upward so that the poor could afford it even less, and then turns around and offers free oil to those same poor? I remember reading something like that in 1984 by George Orwell where the chocolate ration was reduced by several ounces but the Party put out a story that it had actually been increased. Only the most weak-minded fools believed the story. Here in the real world, what would that make Joe Kennedy?

That I why I call his judgement worse than his politics.

Mona goes on the highlight some other "achievements" of Mr. Chavez that Joe is turning a blind eye to:

It isn't as if Chavez has improved life so much in Venezuela that he can now look abroad for charitable opportunities. According to the Associated Press, Venezuela's inflation rate has now topped 22 percent, Latin America's highest. The government has imposed price controls in a bid to control inflation, which has led to shortages of basic items like milk, eggs and sugar. Consumers are also having trouble finding chickens, cooking oil and black beans in supermarkets.

One can understand Mr. Kennedy's desire to help the poor heat their homes in the winter. But to shill for a figure like Chavez? There are other options, including federal programs. Doesn't Kennedy cringe when he reads accounts like this from CNN last May?

"Venezuela's most-watched television station -- and outlet for the political opposition -- went off the air after the government refused to renew its broadcast license . . . Police on Sunday used water cannons and what appeared to be tear gas to break up thousands of demonstrators protesting the government's decision to close the country's most-watched television station . . . Inside the studios of Radio Caracas Television, employees cried and chanted 'Freedom!' on camera."

And this:

Does it not cause Kennedy to question his association when he reads accounts like this mid-2007 report from the State Department and the Organization of American States?


"The OAS report on Venezuela said it was concerned about the administration of justice in that country, the problem of sicariato (paid killings) and the 'impunity that surrounds reports of extrajudicial executions at the hands of agents' of the Venezuelan government.

"Extrajudicial killings are a particular concern in Venezuela. More than 6,370 people were victims of homicides committed between 2000 and 2005 by the 'agents' of Venezuelan state security forces . . ."

Joe Kennedy's politics are most definitely in the "bad" zone. But his sense of good judgement is totally MIA.

You can access the complete colum on-line here:

Joe Kennedy, Hugo Chavez And That Free Heating Oil
Mona Charen
January 4, 2008

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