Bolsonaro's sons show up in Mossad and IDF t-shirts, and the media melt down
It's happening. The media are melting down and going into hysterics about Brazil's election of Jair Bolsonaro, AKA "Tropical Trump," to its presidency. Here's a starter tweet from a Washington Post contributor to show the pattern:
This is a photo of Brazil’s new president Jair Bolsonaro’s two sons wearing IDF and Mossad shirts. Israel has become a symbol for authoritarianism around the world https://t.co/QgRTyRafBr— Mairav Zonszein (@MairavZ) November 4, 2018
Hear that? Israel, authoritarian, get it? What planet does this person live on?
Bolsonaro is very pro-Israel, and Israelis are delighted by the support. Bolsonaro has vowed to move Brazil's embassy to Jerusalem in a bid to please his huge Evangelical voter base, traditionally a friendly, if occasionally overbearing, group to Israel. Just as significant, Israeli prime minister Bibi Netanyahu is expected to attend Bolsonaro's inauguration. (Sure hope Trump does, too.)
As Walter Russell Mead notes in this excellent Wall Street Journal op-ed here, it represents a big shift for the region:
Improved relations with Israel are a hallmark of evangelical political influence. Guatemala, another historically Catholic country, is now about 40% Protestant. It opened an embassy in Jerusalem two days after the U.S. did. Although Latin American countries have typically been hostile to Israel since the 1967 war, that's changing rapidly.
But then there's that canard about authoritarian tyrants, as if that actually characterized tiny democratic Israel, encircled by a sea of real tyrants.
Naturally, the left is having a cow.
That's just one thing the left is having a cow about, as the tweet above with its churlish commentary shows.
In the last day or two, a flood of anti-Bolsonaro commentary has frothed out, all of it ignorant if not unintentionally ironic. Here's the Washington Post again, in what it bills at the top of its page as "smart analysis":
Bolton made another comment that was perhaps even more revealing of the administration’s outlook. He hailed the election of "like-minded leaders" in the region such as Brazil's president-elect, Jair Bolsonaro. The victory of such a far-right candidate, Bolton said, demonstrated "a growing regional commitment to free-market principles, and open, transparent, and accountable governance."
Had a very good conversation with the newly elected President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, who won his race by a substantial margin. We agreed that Brazil and the United States will work closely together on Trade, Military and everything else! Excellent call, wished him congrats!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 29, 2018
It was a strange way to describe a man who, as readers of Today's WorldView know, is notorious for his racist, homophobic and misogynist rhetoric and has cheered the brutal legacy of Brazil’s military dictatorship. His chief economist, Paolo Guedes, champions the liberalizing reforms of the late Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet – a man better known for the blood on his hands than his fiscal policy.
Guess the WaPo columnist, Ishaan Tharoor, never got the memo from Salena Zito about voters taking candidates "seriously but not literally." Kind of a big thing to miss.
Something even bigger that he misses is that ignorant shot at Pinochet of Chile, dismissing the former Chilean military ruler as "a man better known for the blood on his hands than his fiscal policy."
All I can ask about that is, "Why the hell not?"
Turns out Chile is a first-world country. Why is it a first-world country? Because of Pinochet and, yes, his fiscal policy, done by his capable University of Chicago-educated free-market advisers and his slew of free-market reforms. Fiscal policy, indeed, and don't think it was easy, given that the country was digging out from a socialist morass and in the grip of unions. The reforms also include the world-famous "Chilean Model" of pension privatization, which has left Chileans with bigger pensions than Americans get from Social Security, as well as the savings that doubly serve as the highest accumulated capital for roads and bridges and other big things in all Latin America. There was also free trade, privatization of state enterprises, access to actual health care, everything. Chile also has the highest social capital as result of these reforms, with gigantic charity giving, extreme transparency, and just about zero corruption. Like that Chilean wine in your wine glass, Ishaan? Thank Pinochet for that one. When leftists ruled Chile, planting new vineyards was illegal because these pre-Pinochet-era lefties insisted they were out to combat alcoholism. (As usual, they failed.)
That beautiful model is the only thing that hasn't ever been tried in Brazil, and obviously, people want it. Unlike socialism, it works every time you try it.
While we are at it, let's look at the supposedly wicked human rights record of the much maligned Pinochet: 3,000 dead? Bad. Two thirds of them armed leftist guerrillas shooting at troops and hurling bombs? Helluva a lot more understandable. And get this: Pinochet's record is positively pristine compared to Brazil's or Argentina's, whose generals executed tens of thousands of leftists. Pinochet was, by contrast, the most restrained. This brings up what is really going on here: Pinochet is the most maligned leader in Latin America, not because of the dead leftists, but because of his stunning free-market reforms.
Bolsonaro knows that and is unafraid of leftist yelling. But rest assured, and sure as a Swiss clock, they are yelling.
Here's some more nonsense.
Tharoor gets into even more trouble when he brings up Venezuelan academic Moisés Naím, who told him:
"It is true what they say that these are three regimes that are horrible and deserve to be treated as pariahs, but nothing has worked so far," Moisés Naím, a distinguished fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said to my colleague Josh Rogin. "Cuba has been a challenging issue for every administration since the Bay of Pigs invasion, and no American president has been able to solve that puzzle. So, let's see if they have come up with a new remedy, a new strategy, a new regional approach. Right now, we don't know."
Did you hear that, Ishaan? He said nothing has worked. Yelling at communist regimes only makes them more vile. Naím has been around and would know the despair that Venezuelans feel at the fecklessness of its neighbors, even including the U.S. His uncertainty about Bolsonaro, who apparently likes more than words, as does Trump, sounds like a de facto endorsement.
The media meltdown is all over the place. Get a load of this anti-Bolsonaro headline from a CNN op-ed-contributor: "The world is changing before our eyes. And we can't do anything to stop it." And this lede: "This week, icy blasts of change swept two continents."
They were not heralding seasonal variations in weather but could be harbingers of what might become an enduring – and chilling – political climate.
As unseasonably early winter storms dumped heavy rain and snow across Europe, Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, effectively stepped down as the leader of her party and irreparably weakened her ability to keep Europe on an even keel.
That very same day, Brazil elected a far-right leader who is even Trumpier than US President Donald Trump.
Ummm, CNN? The Brazilian voters voted for change, by a gargantuan margin, and the fireworks and dancing on Copacabana Beach pretty well underscored it. Some icy blast, doofus.
Here's a mini-meltdown from The Hill: "Brazil proves it's no joke when people start voting for clowns[.]"
Oh, right. We are supposed to think Bolsonaro is a clown. The problem here is mostly that the headline, and the premise, is problematic:
As Brazilians and the world try to make sense of what just happened, some historical perspective is needed.
Really? Fifty-five percent of Brazilians voted for Bolsonaro, and now they are all scratching their heads and trying to make sense of what happened, alongside "the world"? Gonna gag at that one.
The fill of the piece begins with an anecdote that isn't all that bad, about how Brazilians really did elect a clown eight years ago, and suggests that protest candidates (in this case, a professional clown) were an unheeded warning to the political establishment that all was not well. But we all know what they really wanted us to think about Bolsonaro with that "clown" headline.
I'll cap with one last truly lousy meltdown, from Foreign Affairs:
The new Brazilian president's policy positions will likely please Washington in the short term. But what their longer-term effect will be, for both Brazil and the United States, is worth asking. Bolsonaro's past statements and current policy proposals suggest that his presidency will pose a direct threat to democratic norms and institutions, the rule of law, social justice, and the improvement of security in Brazil. The past 30 years have been an era of progress for most of Latin America, thanks in large part to those values. Saluting the American flag cannot compensate for the real risk that Bolsonaro will abandon them.
So Bolsonaro hasn't even set foot in office yet, and already he's a threat to democracy? And they say this with a straight face as they discuss hellholes such as Cuba and Venezuela and the need to respect their sovereignty? Any threat to democracy in those dumps? Any concern for democracy in those dumps? Funny how the concern seems to be on only Brazil. Talk about unintentional irony.
What we have here is an amazing extension of the Trump meltdown in the press, now moving over to Brazil. They're about to start making asses of themselves.