Thursday, September 21, 2006

Rangel to Chavez: Shut Up (UPDATED)

Even as Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez was receiving applause at a Harlem church, Representative Charles Rangel (D-NY), as partisan a Democrat and vociferous a critic of the Bush administration as you will find, was condemning Chavez' "devil" remarks at the United Nations yesterday.

From Rangel's official website:
WASHINGTON - I want to express my extreme displeasure with statements by the President of Venezuela attacking U.S. President George Bush in such a personal and disparaging way during his remarks at the United Nations General Assembly.

It should be clear to all heads of government that criticism of Bush Administration policies, either domestic or foreign, does not entitle them to attack the President personally.

George Bush is the President of the United States and represents the entire country. Any demeaning public attack against him is viewed by Republicans and Democrats, and all Americans, as an attack on all of us.

I feel that I must speak out now since the Venezuelan government has been instrumental in providing oil at discounted prices to people in low income communities who have suffered increases in rent as heating oil prices have risen sharply. By offering this benefit to people in need, Venezuela has won many friends in poor communities of New York and other states. I am surprised that American oil companies have not stepped up to provide that kind of assistance to the poor.

Venezuela's generosity to the poor, however, should not be interpreted as license to attack President Bush. Those who take issue with Bush Administration policies have no right to attack him personally. It was not helpful when President Bush referred to certain nations as an "axis of evil." Neither is it helpful for a head of state to use the sacred halls of the United Nations to insult President Bush.
Though this posting carries a slight hint of equivocation in the "Axis of Evil" comment, Rangel's live remarks at his press conference did not, and were delivered forcefully enough to seemingly stun the reporters present.

"No questions? Guess I said it all, huh?" Rangel said, as it took several moments for reporters to react to his statement and begin asking questions.

And now, some words I never thought I'd write: Bravo, Mr. Rangel, well done.

Update:Pelosi calls Chavez a thug:
"Hugo Chavez fancies himself a modern day Simon Bolivar but all he is an everyday thug," House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said at a news conference, referring to Chavez' comments in a U.N. General Assembly speech on Wednesday.

"Hugo Chavez abused the privilege that he had, speaking at the United Nations," said Pelosi, a frequent Bush critic. "He demeaned himself and he demeaned Venezuela."