Bloggers on Obama-Cheney and Hugo Chavez

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
Nov. 19 2007 6:11 PM

Tomfoolery

Bloggers are scratching their heads at Thomas Friedman's pitch for an Obama-Cheney candidacy, and they are unimpressed that Hugo Chavez butted heads with two different kings last week.

Tomfoolery: In his Sunday column, the New York Times' Thomas Friedman hankers after an Obama-Cheney ticket: "When negotiating with murderous regimes like Iran's or Syria's, you want Tony Soprano by your side, not Big Bird. Mr. Obama's gift for outreach would be so much more effective with a Dick Cheney standing over his right shoulder, quietly pounding a baseball bat into his palm."

Liberals are not amused. "I think this might be the Worst Times Op-ed Page Ever," opinesMatt Yglesias. At Obsidian Wings, Publius complains that Friedman oversimplifies the ethnic politics of the Middle East and exaggerates Iran's capabilties; on the same blog, Hilzoy suggests that "Dick Cheney is quite possibly the most disastrous Vice President in the history of the republic, and Tom Friedman thinks we should keep him on. Maybe next week we can expect him to recommend that the Democratic nominee make the disinterred corpse of Richard Nixon Attorney General, or Typhoid Mary the head of the Centers for Disease Control." Salon's Glenn Greenwald goes further: "Tom Friedman -- and the rest of our media class -- are completely unchanged as compared to what they were like in 2002. The disaster they unleashed in Iraq only caused them to hide all of this for awhile, not to relinquish or even modify it in any way." Meanwhile, liberal TheGarlic headlines its post: "Thomas Friedman, Clearly, Is Eating Lead-Painted Toys From His Flat World Economy!"

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Not everyone's eyes are popping. Michael Kennedy at A Brief History applauds Friedman's idea. And Indiana comments on dox^2, "If you look at some of the most respected leaders we have had in this country, those respected by the American people and leaders of countries around the world, they have all been able to walk that fine line between what basically equals playing good cop/bad cop. Unfortunately the candidates we have now seem sadly lacking in that ability."

Read more about Friedman's column.

Por que te no callas, part I: Bloggers are re-examining the dollar in the wake of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's outburst at an OPEC summit in Saudi Arabia over the weekend. He urged the cartel to assert itself as an "active political agent," crowed over the dollar's fall, and warned that oil prices could reach $200 a barrel if the United States attacks Iran. Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah affirmed OPEC's moderation and asserted that oil should not be a polarizing force.

Analyst Phil Flynn at TheEnergy Report calls the OPEC conference an "unmitigated disaster" and takes comfort from the fact that other OPEC countries gave little credence to Chavez's words, and argues that King Abdullah "should have just told him to shut up like Spain's leader told him to do last week."

At Venezuela News & Views, Daniel writes that Abdullah's rebuke served to "expose the naked ambitions of Chavez who is so unhinged that he treats all as if they were his subjects. The Saudis have seen pass much worse characters through the Middle East than Chavez and he certainly will not brow beat them."

There was much discussion at the OPEC summit about trading oil in a currency besides the "worthless" dollar, as Iranian Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called it. Noting that Iran and Venezuela have already converted the majority of their reserves to euros, anti-Chavez Venezuelan blogger Miguel argues, "[W]hat really matters is what countries that hold the dollar reserves due to oil exports do with their money. So the proposal the Iranian and Venezuelan Presidents should have made, but couldn't because it is none of their business even if they understood the issue, is that OPEC countries all decide to hold their international reserves in euros."

Read more about Chavez and Abdullah.

Por que te no callas, part II:  Maybe Hugo Chavez was feeling a bit touchy at the OPEC summit after what happened at the the Ibero-American summit in Chile last week. Chavez called former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar a "fascist," and repeatedly tried to interrupt the current prime minister, prompting King Juan Carlos to say, "Why don't you shut up?" This pronouncement made its way into a ringtone that has been downloaded by about 500,000 people.

"Buffoons should be ridiculed. But Hitler was also mocked during the 1930's. Laughter didn't stop him, nor will it stop Chavez and Ahmadinejad," writesFresh Bilge's Alan Sullivan, a poet. On Amayel's Notes, a Senegalese student defends Chavez: "Though I understand how Chavez can be obnoxious interrupting and louder than anyone else, but I really find it out of line to ask a fellow president to shut up (especially knowing the King of Spain is just like the Queen of England: irrelevant if no other than parading)."

At Ask Manny Hernandez, by a Venezuelean living in Florida, Manny has a question of his own: "How would we explain something like this to anyone outside of this world or outside of this moment in history? Not sure, but in the meantime I am going to get my Anti-Chavez ringtone."

Read more about the smackdown. View selected rousing YouTube parodies. Download the ringtone.

Bidisha Banerjee is the San Francisco-based co-author of a forthcoming Yale Climate and Energy Institute/Centre for International Governance Innovation report on scenario planning for solar radiation management. She is collaborating on a geoengineering game and has written about geoengineering governance for Slate and the Stanford Journal of Law, Science, and Policy.

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