A Few Moments With a Dictator--What Bush Should Say to Chavez
Hugo Chavez thinks that Bush fears him. He even joked that he might want to sneak up on Bush and scare him at the free trade summit in Argentina. Bush's ability to bench over 200 pounds might make the leader of Venezuela think twice, but I digress.
Chavez knows that free trade will sink him. As a socialist, he can reasonably expect that increased trade, and jobs in his nation will have people more interested in the pursuit of their own economic goals rather than the furthering of Chavez's leadership. Not that the people of Venezuela don't already think that, of course, given that Chavez lost the election. Of course, Jimmy Carter endorsed the flawed results, as he never met a jackboot tinpot dictator he didn't like. Digress again, I'm sorry.
But Bush is the best personality to occupy the White House since Ronald Reagan. This is the guy whom Europe hated who visited with European leaders last year, told them what he was going to be doing in the War on Terror, and got them more or less to agree. Bush has a power of persuasion over certain adversaries that rivals no other leader in modern times.
So here is what he should do. Get close to Chavez, and actually welcome him as a friend. Thank him personally for the offers of oil after Hurricane Katrina. Be his buddy. Then take him into a back room and say this:
Hey 'Chevy', how you doing? Look, I know you have to put on a good show, but remember, we folks in the West are all in this together. I know we've both said some stuff that we didn't mean, but look, I'm willing to ignore it because I know you don't really mean any harm. You've got something to sell, we're willing to buy. We're willing to make your country rich. But we don't like it when people play games, and I know you'd rather be be sitting on a wealthy nation than a land of grumpy people who aren't employed.
So here's what we'll do: cut a deal with me, ignore the Chicoms who're trying to woo you, and remember who loves you. And remember, you can't call Hu Jintao a pendejo and expect him to take it as a joke! See, I know you're just kiddin' around. If you don't want to work with us, we have other sellers, who are really afraid that we're going to bring democracy to their doorstep and who are willing to keep my people happy sooner than their own. Either way, I win. But you're my boy, from my neighborhood, and I want to work with you. Sound good? Ok, let's go out and look all happy for the cameras, and we'll keep this just between us.
Of course, it all depends on just how serious Chavez is about being the zealot he claims to be, and I doubt that any deal could be cut with the guy, but if it can be done, I expect Bush to be able to pull it off.