Feb 28, 2008
Mark Penn might try out this new sound bite for Hillary Clinton: "Ready to lie from Day 1."
Exhibit A, as noted in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal: this week she claimed that Venezuela is a dictatorship.The Journal reports:
In a major speech yesterday at George Washington University, Sen. Clinton drove the wedge [with Sen. Obama] deeper: "If I am entrusted with the presidency, America will have the courage, once again, to meet with our adversaries. But I will not be penciling in the leaders of Iran or North Korea or Venezuela or Cuba on the presidential calendar without preconditions; until we have assessed, through lower-level diplomacy, the motivations and intentions of these dictators."
So, according to Senator Hillary Clinton, the leader of Venezuela is a dictator.
It's hard to imagine that Hillary is so uninformed -- and has such incompetent foreign policy advisers -- that she doesn't know that President Hugo Chavez and his government have won multiple elections that were characterized as free and fair by international observers. But if she knows this, then she is lying.
For example, this is what the Carter Center delegation said about the 2004 presidential recall referendum:
"On Aug. 15, 2004, Venezuelans came out in record numbers to participate in the first popularly mandated presidential recall referendum ever to be held. In doing so, the Venezuelan people voted not to recall President Chavez from office, with 59 percent of the population voting for Chavez and 41 percent voting against him. It is the opinion of The Carter Center that the Aug. 15 vote clearly expressed the will of the Venezuelan electorate."
Indeed, here's what the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs wrote last October about the elections in 1998 and 1999 - this is on the State Department's web page:
"In December 1998, Hugo Chavez Frias won the presidency on a campaign for broad reform, constitutional change, and a crackdown on corruption...Chavez's argument that the existing political system had become isolated from the people won broad acceptance, particularly among Venezuela's poorest classes, who had seen a significant decline in their living standards over the previous decade and a half. The National Constituent Assembly (ANC), consisting of 131 elected individuals, convened in August 1999 to begin rewriting the Constitution. In free elections, voters gave all but six seats to persons associated with the Chavez movement. Venezuelans approved the ANC's draft in a national referendum on December 15, 1999."
On January 31 of this year, the Miami Herald reported,
"Human Rights Watch on Thursday said Venezuela does not belong to a group of nations like Pakistan and Russia that use the veneer of democracy to mask autocratic rule...'We did not include Venezuela in the list of closed countries because it is not,' Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth said, unveiling the organization's 2008 World Report, which highlighted leaders who claim to be democratic but take autocratic measures...'There are serious problems in Venezuela, but we shouldn't pretend that Venezuela is a closed society,' he said. 'There still is significant political competition, and indeed the best evidence of that was the fact that Chavez just lost his referendum.' "
You're entitled to your own opinion, Senator Clinton, but you're not entitled to your own facts.
Robert Naiman is National Coordinator of Just Foreign Policy, a membership organization devoted to reforming U.S. foreign policy to reflect the values and serve the interests of the majority of Americans. Naiman edits the daily Just Foreign Policy news summary.
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