Saturday, January 29, 2005

Rice gets the nod, a symbol for Venezuela

Now that I have shamelessly caught your attention....

Thursday I was caught by the CNN headline of Rice getting an 85 to 13 vote confirmation but with the highest NO since Henry Clay in the XIX century. This did bother me some: right there I sensed number manipulation for the sake of sensational headlines. Of course, further details confirmed that I was right.

The number first. When Henry Clay made it secretary of state he had 40% against him and there were barely 25 states. A comparison across the scale of time is ridiculous.

Second, those who voted against. Most of the true blue liberals in congress. Which is to be expected, Iraq being at the heart of the confirmation hearing. But what was more the point is that 70% of the democrats did vote for Rice whereas GOP Chafee did not have the guts to vote against her. Which should tell you two things: that 13 NO is pure posturing, and that the system worked.

The system worked? Would scream an anti Bush citizen! Yes, because the point of the confirmation hearing is that the senate decides if the appointee is fit to do the job, to follow the policies of the president that was elected. And any reasonable person even disagreeing profoundly with the policies of Bush and the unquestionable loyalty of Rice will realize that Rice can be a secretary of state.

The system also worked because there was an opportunity to contest, to expose in a public debate widely followed the Bush policies in Iraq, which is the main concern of the US (see a previous Mora post).

And now my point: in Venezuela we have a constant changing of ministers. At no point we have an opportunity to examine their qualifications for office, and even less to discuss the policies that they are supposed to defend. In Venezuela the only thing that matters is the word of Chavez. And amazingly, religiously like, people follow (read the Milagros Socorro article in Spanish posted in Vcrisis, or the Arena post) .

It is inconceivable today in Venezuela to have a minister go to the National Assembly and respond to tough questions the way Ms. Rice had to do (or any other nominee of Bush, Clinton, Bush 1, Reagan, Carter, etc...). That by itself speaks volume as to our supposed democracy.



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