Combined with compliant media they seem to.
Daniel Duquenal (a pseudonym), my favorite blogger there even before he became the last significant English language blogger in Venezuela, offered some comparisons between the current Venezuelan regime and the regimes in Turkey and Syria. The entire article is interesting and well worth reading. However, I found this paragraph fascinating:
Chavez never was a model except for its methods to ensure that gangs of thugs seize and retain power while killing democracy with its own weapons. We did have a Taksim of sorts with Plaza Altamira in 2002-2003 but this is over as the reality of Venezuelan society caught up with us: we are not a fighting people, we were never democrats and never really aspired to become such, much preferring whomever promised the best “free gifts” from the state. Elections may be stolen, but in the end we do not seem to care as long as we seem to be getting our share of the loot. [Emphasis added]
Daniel may have intended to present an analogy of sorts to the United States, but I very much doubt it. However free goodies, when dispensed with pleasing words lauded by a compliant media, seem to trump all else. Venezuelan el Presidente Chávez was a master of the art of using pleasing words and had an almost totally compliant media. His current successors to the Chavismo throne are far less adept at using pleasing words and seem to be compensating by forcing the media to be even more compliant. Therein may lie part of Venezuela’s problem, along with the decreasing availability of free stuff for other than strong backers of Chavismo.
However, the part of Daniel’s quote for which I used bold face type above — about killing democracy with its own weapons — is also relevant to the United States. Bryan Preston at PJ Tatler wrote in How Obama Et Al. Hacked the Constitution:
On the one hand, Obama identifies and buys new voters and gets some of them to turn out for him in order to keep their “free” stuff. On the other hand, Obama benefits from the scramble that the IRS is creating among his opponents. The IRS abuse suppresses his opponents’ ability to challenge him. In a close election in which he had already bought enough new voters to replace those he lost from 2008, the two effects were enough to make the difference. So it’s less a coup than a hacking — turning a system’s vulnerabilities into opportunities.
The “shellacking” in the 2010 mid-terms, as I’ve mentioned, changed the balance of power but ultimately left Obama a freer hand to misbehave. The divided Congress became a system vulnerability that Obama could exploit, and he exploited it. He could and did focus on attacking the Republican-controlled House of Representatives relentlessly, making them the villains in every issue. The fact that they passed bill after bill and budget after budget while the Senate did nothing did not matter. The low-information voter pays very little attention to the daily political tussles in Washington. They generally trust whatever the president says. If he lies, they tend to believe him. The fact that half of the “do-nothing Congress” was in Democrat hands made no difference to millions of low-information voters. [Emphasis added]
With enough “hacking” there will be little left of our silly old Constitution.
Blogger Clarissa, from what I generally consider the left, offered this about the current “Obama scandal” over the use of massive snooping:
And here is what I really dig. When Bush Jr. did exactly what Obama is doing but to a lesser extent and defended this course of action publicly and openly, everybody hated him. We are not as quick to hate Obama, though, because he always says what we want to hear. So what does this mean? Do we hate Bush for. . . being honest? Politicians can do whatever they want as long as they are smart enough to put a pretty spin on their actions?
Many on the left — and worryingly many on what was once considered to be the right — have been occupied of late disparaging Mr. Toobin, the “hacker” du jour, as a traitor and worse. Seemingly, they have less interest in our constitutional freedoms than in attacking someone who is less enchanted than they are with their growing and increasingly powerful Government. Jonathan Turley writes about that here.
Honesty is not now — if it ever has been — the
best most useful policy for politicians. For political purposes, sweet sounding words and phrases — well delivered courtesy of a teleprompter or a speech likely authored by someone else and devoid of substance or meaning — have displaced honesty as the key. Their only perceived meaning comes from what happy listeners import from their own stores of hope for change.
Unfortunately, the situation is not as benign as that portrayed in My Fair Lady.
Is it at least barely possible that President Obama has finally managed to “show” enough of his supporters to make a dent in the reverence commonly displayed for his words, words words? It’s possible and a lover scorned can be a dangerous enemy indeed.
W.H. Auden wrote a rather long poem, In Memory of W.B. Yeats. These two stanzas (along with one other) were subsequently deleted:
Time that is intolerant
Of the brave and the innocent,
And indifferent in a week
To a beautiful physique,
Worships language and forgives
Everyone by whom it lives;
Pardons cowardice, conceit,
Lays its honours at their feet.
Although deleted, they remain perhaps the most important — and today the most relevant — part of the poem. President Obama is not the first, nor will he be the last, to make mischief for the nation after gaining its confidence by the artful use of pleasant sounding but otherwise meaningless phrases. Have his pleasant sounding words turned the loyalty of the “loyal opposition” in an unfortunate direction? They or something else seems to have done so.
Here are His fans anticipating the arrival of He for Whom they had been waiting:
They “got” him. Can we hope that they will get him and decide to toss him back from whence he came like a scorned lover and find someone at least marginally better next time?