Perhaps it's just because my primary source of news is The Economist, but when I heard about Hugo Chávez's death, I assumed that my reaction of "Well, good riddance" would be more or less universal. And yet, since then I have heard multiple sane, purportedly educated people describe it as a tragedy and bemoan the loss of a brilliant, progressive crusader. Really?
I had figured we could debate the ways and extent to which Chávez was a disaster for Venezuela (Answer: all of them, and completely, but we can debate it), but I was not aware it was okay for us to start outright supporting kleptocratic, egomaniacal despots. I mean, as far as I can tell, Chávez was Robert Mugabe plus a jaunty hat.
Is this only okay because he called George W. Bush Satan, and therefore the wing of the Democratic party that still blames W. for everything concludes he can't possibly have been all bad? Or do we figure everyone's allowed one youthful military coup attempt before we consider his democratic credentials tarnished? Or is it just that the beret tugs at the heartstrings of 19-year-old sociology students wearing Che t-shirts? Because maybe I can understand their not wanting to take the time to sift through piles of historical documents demonstrating that Che was a rotten thug, but Chávez has been right there, ruining a country, live and in real time for the past decade.
And if the phrase "Bolivarian revolution" appears anywhere in the comments, I will jump through the internet and punch you in the face.