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Illegal Since 1976

A quick look at the Times Web site suggests that Laurie Goodstein's print report has not been updated to state that the White House has or has not commented on Pat Robertson's outrageous call for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. The Reuters story that appeared on the newspaper's site last night pointed out that the White House had not yet commented. I'm sure that that's how folks at the White House want to keep it. To criticize Pat Robertson is to irritate the base. In time, people will forget, move on, whatever, and the Prince Esquivaliant team will have scored yet another esquivalience. (Note to spell check: these are real words now. I say so.)

Or do you believe that the President's official duties do not include vigorously denouncing demagoguery? When an extremely influential and widely broadcast figure takes to the cablewaves to solicit murder, is it not incumbent upon the President to make it clear, as Donald Rumseld sort of did, that - as Reuters cheerfully put it - "Political assassination as U.S. policy has been prohibited since 1976"?

Media Matters for America has collected two recent outbursts of pundit bloodlust, adding as a lagniappe a 1998 Ann Coulter call for President Clinton's assassination. I am no stranger to such impulses, but that is all that you are ever going to read about them here. If I thought I actually wielded influence over a substantial number of people, as Mr Robertson, Bill O'Reilly, and others do, I would go out of my way to purge my orations of all such suggestions. That is what good leaders do. They argue for better behavior than they or anyone else is capable of maintaining, and in the process inspire others to lead decent, productive, and hopeful lives. They do not appeal to the broken or bitter reflexes of their listeners. That is what demagogues do.

We know from numerous twentieth-century examples that demagoguery sometimes succeeds - for a short while, before everything blows up. It is the official duty of every democratically-elected leader - particularly those who claim to be democratically elected - to denounce demagoguery, insidious root and bruising branch.


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Definitely well said!

Sure you can scoff at Pat's statement, but you can't deny the legitimate threat that Venezuela poses as a base for giant armies of America-hating, blood-thirsty, commie-pinko, radical-Islamist Spider Monkeys to sweep up through Mexico and topple our endangered democracy.

Beautifully put. But in the case of the current junta wishful thinking I'm afraid. There IS no higher purpose. It's all about politics, positioning and power/money. The case for rule of law (the one thing the U.S. should always stand for) has long been flushed down the toilet, with a series of undeclared wars, complete disregard for human rights and brazen, if hamhanded attempts a international relations. There's not even a pretense to compromise or even the appearance of financial propriety. We've sunken below what I thought was the least common denominator. And the world is a meaner and more dangerous place for it.

currently doing some good volunteer stuff in nicaragua, i wish to share with you the local attitude, they hate hugo C and are convinced this is a neat plot betwixt los dos Cs, Chavez y Castro to provoke a reason for these chaps to invade florida AGAIN, we are all astounded that the gringos take this diatribe serious. anyhow, keep happy up there, granpa chuck

The most legitimate threats to our endangered democracy are muddled thinking and action by the current administration and apathy from the electorate. As for spider monkeys they are in my experience a bit messy, more so than old world monkeys, but trainable and affectionate all the same, just another loveable primate group. As for dos C's Chango works too, los hermanos Changos, Fidel y Hugo.

Since becoming a “Super Power” at the end of the 19th Century, this country has acted, like any other imperialist country, in its own self-interest.

We have had leaders in Guatemala and Iran killed, stood by passively while unspeakable atrocities took place during WWII, fought a senseless war in Vietnam, have meddled in Nicaragua, for example, by selling drugs (!) in this country, and have meddled whenever and wherever we thought we should, all under the guise of self-interest.

There should be no surprise about Robertson’s remark: it is undoubtedly on the drawing boards in some scenario in Washington. And the LIC hasn’t the moral or political courage to contradict Robertson. I would have been astonished if he had.

Given all the ugliness of the past century, the “American” century, we have behaved better than our Superpower counterparts. It is cold comfort that we have not always conformed to the principles we have long stood for, but this country, like the world at large, is flawed. And we have a leadership at present that is as flawed as any in memory. Given the caliber of “leaders” in this country, on both sides of the aisle, I despair for change.

"Prince Esquivaliant"


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