Friday, September 22, 2006

How Similar are the Democrats to Chavez?

Much Too Cozy With Chavez

Posted 9/21/2006

Politics: It's good to see Democrats put country above politics, as many did in repudiating Hugo Chavez's lunatic attacks on our president. But too many are still in the thug's debt and must dissociate with more than words.

That's important because Chavez's crazed speeches this week, declaring President Bush "the devil," leave the scent of political blood in the water for plenty of Democrats.

They know their own anti-Bush ravings could come back to haunt them on Nov. 7, given the enormous wave of public revulsion at Chavez's words in the U.S.

After all, potential GOP TV ads featuring Democrats' own attacks on Bush, back to back with Chavez's words, as the Felipe Calderon team did in Mexico's election, could ensure that Democrats pay a high political price for their past words.

Thus, Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., made a politically savvy but still commendable defense of the U.S. in response to Chavez's attack: "Don't come to my country and attack my president."

But Democrats who've been cozying up to the Venezuelan dictator in the past few years are the ones who deserve the spotlight.

They have, like Rep. Bill Delahunt, D-Mass., Sen. Lincoln Chafee, R-R.I., and Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., gone on junkets to Venezuela to admire Chavez's "revolution" in his dog and pony shows.

Worse, they've willingly gotten themselves into Chavez's political debt by accepting subsidized heating oil for their supposedly underserved residents. Rangel had nothing but praise for Chavez in February upon taking low-cost heating oil for his Harlem district.

But none have been as involved with Chavez as Delahunt, who brokered Chavez's cheap-oil program. He called Chavez's attack "silly," but then told the Boston Globe it was all Bush's fault.

Rep. Jose Serrano, D-N.Y., Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., and Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., all helped with deals for 40 million gallons of cheap oil via Venezuelan-owned Citgo, which claims to have "helped 181,000" households. It now says it will double that.

Disturbingly, the U.S. Energy Department's Sam Bodman dismissed this Chavez oil program as "corporate philanthropy."

It doesn't look like that when we see these same friends-of-Chavez congressmen vote against every single offshore drilling bill and proposed natural gas pipeline when those bills come up in Congress. Chavez desperately wants high oil prices, and to see pro-Chavez congressmen voting against bills that would cut energy prices not just for the poor but for everyone is, frankly, suspicious.

These actions contrast sharply with those of Chicago Democrats who told Chavez to beat it with his offer of $4 million in cheap transport fuel, and then started probing Chavez's bid to penetrate their city's electoral apparatus through voting machine contracts.

For Chavez, it's obvious that Congress' cheap-oil Democrats will accept political favors from literally anyone — even a foreign dictator — which certainly puffs up his sense of power.

That emboldens him to step up aggressive actions against the U.S., like his recent alliance with nuclear wannabe Iran and his purchase of advanced jet fighters from Russia that menace us directly.

The Venezuelan dictator vows to drive oil prices as high as $100 a barrel if the U.S. takes action against Iran. That cheap oil game isn't about helping the poor — just some very gullible Democrats.

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