The Venezuelan dictator's derangement is becoming ever more visible as his petrobucks-fueled reign enables him to indulge his eccentricities. In mid-July, Chavez disinterred the remains of Simon Bolivar (with whom he is obsessed). Thor Halvorson of the WaPo described the event:
The skeleton was pulled apart. Pieces were removed, such as teeth and bone fragments, for "testing." The rest was put in a new coffin with the Chávez government's seal. Chávez, who also tweeted the proceedings, gave a rambling speech in which he asked Christ to repeat his Lazarus miracle and raise the dead once more. He also apparently conversed with Bolívar's bones.
"I had some doubts," Chávez told his nation, paraphrasing the poet Pablo Neruda, "but after seeing his remains, my heart said, 'Yes, it is me.' Father, is that you, or who are you? The answer: 'It is me, but I awaken every hundred years when the people awaken.' "
Christopher Hitchens was invited to spend some time with Chavez, in the company of his friend Sean Penn, a pal of Chavez, and has written a must-read essay on his own experiences with the deranged dictator.
One of the worst enemies of the United States, and (therefore) hero to the American left, is a nutjob. Madmen with command of military forces are a danger to civilization.
Many people laughed when Chávez appeared at the podium of the United Nations in September 2006 and declared that he smelled sulfur from the devil himself because of the presence of George W. Bush. But the evidence is that he does have an idiotic weakness for spells and incantations, as well as many of the symptoms of paranoia and megalomania. After the failure of Bolívar's attempted Gran Colombia federation-which briefly united Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, and other nations-the U.S. minister in Bogotá, future president William Henry Harrison, said of him that "[u]nder the mask of patriotism and attachment to liberty, he has really been preparing the means of investing himself with arbitrary power." The first time was tragedy; this time is also tragedy but mixed with a strong element of farce.