In a speech delivered yesterday at the United Nations, Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez referred to President Bush as “the devil,” and following one of Bush’s speeches proclaimed that it “still smells of sulfur here.”
Afterwards, countless bloggers reveled in the deviltry.
“Bush himself opened the way for these sorts of comments with his 2002 State of the Union address, where he mysteriously allowed the neoconservative lightweight David Frum to put into his mouth the phrase ‘the axis of evil’ in referring to Iraq, Iran and North Korea,” writes Juan Cole. “Critics at the time complained that they weren’t an axis.”
“But the real problem is that ‘evil’ is not a political term, it is a theological one,” adds Cole. “The president of a civil republic has no business trafficking in the rhetoric of evil. Besides, the best ethical theory sees evil as an attribute of acts, not of persons or countries. ‘Iran’ is not ‘evil.’ Iran’s governing officials may occasionally do evil things, but they are actions, not essences. If you call a person or a country ‘evil’ you are demonizing them.”
Following in Cole’s footsteps, the Osterly Times observes that the “reaction from the rest of the chamber certainly implies that Chavez touched upon a raw nerve, no matter how overblown his rhetoric was.”
“The simple truth is that for the past half-decade George Bush and the neocons have treated the UN with contempt, and yesterday it was possible to detect that contempt being reciprocated back towards them,” adds the blogger.
At the same time, some left-leaning bloggers seemed saddened by their belief that Chavez’s comments contained more than a nugget of truth.
“What hurt yesterday was how many and how loudly attendees at the UN laughed when Chavez said this,” Cut to the Chase remarks. “Not the kind of laugh where they thought Chavez was a little bonkers, but the kind of laugh that tells you, ‘Oh, look! Someone finally said the truth, if colorfully!’”
In the meantime, many conservative bloggers were busy teeing off on Chavez.
“Why do we allow monsters like this guy to spew this kind of hatred on our soil?” asks Stop the ACLU. “Why do we allow such a useless organization corrupt to the bone to perform its mayhem and appeasement here? No surprise, Hugo got a huge round of applause after this hateful performance. It all makes me sick. I think the smell of sulfur he complained of was from his own mouth spewing such hatred.”
Others — like Jonah Goldberg of National Review’s the Corner — were less critical, however.
“I guess I’m off the reservation here, but I really kind of liked his speech,” writes Goldberg. “I like that kind of moral clarity. You know where you stand with someone who says your country is evil and your president is the devil and that you and your kind must be fought at every turn. I like it for its nostalgic qualities too. It’s old school, old world, old times stuff.”
Finally, one blogger pondered how Chavez’s comments might be playing among Venezuelans.
“My God,” comments the Jawa Report, “it must be embarrassing for anyone over the age of ten to be a Venezuelan today …”