Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Interpret This

Pat Robertson apologized today for saying the U.S. should assassinate Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, then declared that he didn't use the word "assassinate" and had been misinterpreted.

"Is it right to call for assassination?" he said in the statement. "No, and I apologize for that statement. I spoke in frustration that we should accommodate the man who thinks the U.S. is out to kill him."

But Mr. Robertson was far from apologetic on his television show today, instead insisting that he had been been "misinterpreted" by The Associated Press and that he had never used the word "assassination."

"I said our special forces should 'take him out.' 'Take him out' could be a number of things, including kidnapping," Mr. Robertson told his audience on the show "The 700 Club" today.

Yes. Robertson could also have meant that our special forces should "take him out" to dinner.

But that's not what Robertson said about Chavez, is it? Here is what Robertson said, via the video of his remarks posted at Media Matters:

You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war.

But let's not quibble about the meaning of a word or two. Joe at American Leftist tells us that everything Robertson said about how Chavez came to power is untrue.

I like the bit at the beginning about the "popular coup" that overthrew Chavez that America did "nothing about". You know, given the sort of coverage that recent Venezuelan history has received from our so-called liberal media, it's not surprising that even someone as high-profile as Robertson can lie so blatantly on a rightwing operation like the 700 Club but it is nonetheless reprehensible.

A few facts are not controversial and speak volumes. Chavez won two elections, one in '98 and another in '02 by the largest margins in recent memory. He was overthrown by a coup orchestrated by the Venezuelan elite, demonstrably with American aid although the extent of which isn't clear, in 2002 leading to a popular uprising. The Venezuelan military refused to support the coup and Chavez was fairly quickly reinstated. At that point, the cabal of corporate interests arrayed against him attempted to free themselves of Chavez through legal means engineering a recall vote that Chavez beat by a landslide almost exactly a year ago. Chavez is now polling around 80% and guys like Robertson are left longing for happier times, the good old '80's when Ronald Reagan knew how to handle brown-skinned leftists.

Hat tip Nellie for Joe's post.

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