Massachusetts Democrats love Venezuela's strongman.
Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chávez is an ally of the Iranian mullahs, a supporter of North Korea, a close friend of Fidel Castro and a good customer for Vladimir Putin's weapon factories. Now he's also a business partner of Joseph P. Kennedy II. The former Democratic Congressman describes the deal he's cooked up with Mr. Chávez as charity for low-income consumers of heating oil. But it's worth asking what the price of this largesse is to Venezuelans and to U.S. security interests... Generous Joe is not the only one polishing his public image here. In the mold of the Castro strategy of sending armies of "doctors" and "teachers" among the Latin American poor, Mr. Chávez is trying to shape U.S. public opinion in the hope that more gringos will come to see the Chávez government as benevolent.
Massachusetts Democrats seem especially eager to help. In a September 29, 2005, "confidential memorandum" addressed to "President Hugo Chávez" and uncovered by a Congressional committee, William Delahunt (D., Mass.) gushed that it was a "pleasure" to have met with the strongman "to discuss your generous offer." The Democrat advised Mr. Chávez to steer his oil through Mr. Kennedy's nonprofit and declared that "from a public relations perspective" the discount oil scheme "is an extraordinary opportunity to address urgent needs of people living in poverty, while showcasing the compassion of your nation."
Compassion? If fighting poverty is the goal, Mr. Delahunt would do better to remind Mr. Chávez that charity begins at home... We dialed Joe-4-Oil ourselves to ask directly whether it is also "righteous" to assist an anti-American tyrant at the expense of the Venezuelan people. In between berating our reporter for daring to ask such a thing, Mr. Kennedy said that Mr. Chávez has done "so much more" for the poor than any previous government. As for democracy, he said there was "ample room for improvement in the ways that people get elected in Venezuela as well as in Florida." Mr. Chávez chose his partner well.
Read this Wall Street Journal editorial here, and comment below.