By McCarthy, Colman
National Catholic Reporter , Vol. 42, No. 44
Bless Hugo Chavez. In a mid-September speech at the United Nations, the president of Venezuela called George W. Bush a devil--and a malodorous one at that, who left a smell of sulfur on the speaker's podium where the previous day he declared his love of peace.
For speaking undiplomatically among the diplomats, President Chavez was pummeled. "He's an everyday thug," said Nancy Pelosi, the Democrat's leading lady in the House. John Boehner, the Republican House majority leader, labeled Mr. Chavez "a power hungry autocrat." CBS News assessed him as "a blowhard." Brit Hume, Fox's slanter, spread fear as recklessly as the Bush administration he so admires by speculating that Mr. Chavez has so much oil money that "he can give it to terrorists" and "maybe he's doing it." Mr. Chavez "would be much more effective if he would say something that's true," said truth-teller Bill ("I did not have sex with that woman") Clinton.
Critics of Hugo Chavez's devil comment might have-a case if President Bush were not presiding over the hell of secret CIA dungeons these past years. They would have a case if uncharged and lawyerless prisoners were not rotting in the hell of Guantanamo since 2001. They would have a case if the Bush presidency had not turned much of Iraq into a living hell for its citizens. They would have a case if Mr. Bush had not spent much of September pressing Congress to let him continue to flout the Geneva Conventions and Constitution by allowing the CIA to torture people on the suspect list.
If hell, as Christian theologians insist, is where the devil does his torturing, then Chavez is close to having it right metaphorically and possibly literally: The president's devilish policies have created hell on earth for those trapped in dungeons and doomed in war zones.
I don't remember an outcry from the Chavez critics when Mr. …