Hugo Chavez

chavez-un.jpgVenezulan President, Hugo Chavez, made himself heard on the floor of the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday when he unabashedly referred to President Bush as “the devil” who left the room smelling of sulphur. Not only did Chavez engage in some serious mudsling at the President, but he also used the high-profile platform as an opportunity to accuse the United States of being “the false democracy of elites…a very original democracy that’s imposed by weapons and bombs and firing weapons.” Joined by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinjad, Chavez viciously criticized American foreign policy and attacked the United States for its imperialistic approach towards other nations. Chavez later repeated his message at other public appearances in New York City, including a speech made yesterday in Harlem.bush_devil.jpg

Bloggers initially responded in a firestorm to the incindiary comments themselves, (see the entire transcipt of Chavez’s U.N. speech), but the issue quickly and inevitably became a field day for bipartisan banter, especially after well-known Bush critics, led by Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and Charlie Rangel (D-New York), came to Bush’s defense and condemned Chavez’s comments as offensive and inappropriate. Rangel, remembered for having called Bush a “Bull Connor” in the past, even went so far as to appear on Fox News to defend the President and denounce Chavez’s gall to make such remarks on American soil.

Some have expressed their outrage with what they view as blatant hypocrisy on the parts of Pelosi and Rangel, while others have applauded the Democrats support of Bush, which they perceive as an encouraging sign of political unification. However, not all Democrats have been so willing to defend their Commander-in-Chief. Most seem to agree Chavez’s comments were out of line, but not everyone disagrees entirely with the spirit of his critique. Though he didn’t fully endorse Chavez’s comments, Iowa Democrat Tom Harkin voiced a more balanced reaction on Radio Iowa, empathizing with some of the Venezuelan president’s complaints about U.S. foreign policy. Peter Fredson has published a post at Daily Kos querying just how much of Chavez’s speech is truly in err; after a line-by-line analysis of the speech, Fredson concludes that “much of what was criticized [by Chavez] was actually warranted,” and other bloggers argue that much of the international left harbors these same grievances against the United States.

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Some of the response has manifested itself in more concrete terms with simultaneous conservative boycotting and liberal “buycotting” of Citgo, the Venezuelan-owned gas and oil company.

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