As we watch dozens of Venezuelans die in the streets, struggling to save their country from the brink of disaster, this is a good opportunity to point out who on the Left in the United States helped legitimize Chavez during his time in power.
1. President Barack Obama
During the Clinton administration, amid negotiations with Yasser Arafat, the White House became consumed with hugs; specifically, how President Clinton could avoid Arafat’s famous bear grip handshake that would become a full-on embrace. There’s an amusing anecdote about how the White House practiced and choreographed how Clinton could avoid appearing too chummy with Arafat in front of the cameras (“Clinton would squeeze in underneath the biceps and block him.”). Why did Clinton’s staffers spend hours practicing how to avoid an Arafat hug? Because they knew that optics matter.
2. Sean Penn
Sean Penn could be called his generation’s Jane Fonda. Throughout Chavez’s life Penn was an outspoken supporter of the dictator, and at his candlelight vigil in Bolivia Penn showed up wearing a Venezuelan flag jacket and told a group of mourners:
3. Oliver Stone
The director of the movie South of the Border praising Chavez and his ilk in South America, Stone is no stranger to leftist themes in the films he makes. At the 2009 premier of the film at the Venice Film Festival, the AP reported at the [sic] Chavez was met with a red-carpet welcome:
Chavez praised Stone’s work for depicting what he said were improvements made across Latin America.
He’s one of the most important forces we’ve had on this planet, and I’ll wish him nothing but that great strength he has shown over and over again. I do it in love, and I do it in gratitude.