Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The "love" campaign

Warning: this post is not a flashback to the 60ies!

A new creative low might have been reached today in Venezuelan political history. Chavismo has put out a new add campaign where in all simplicity Chavez asks the reader to vote for him out of love. Well, I think it is simply ridiculous, but then again that add is certainly not directed at me: chavismo is quite clear on that, there is nothing at this point it can do to sway certain groups of people and the only thing left to them to try against us is threats, à la Tascon.

I am not sure either it will work on other people. But actually this is not really the point. The point is that this add marks a major shift in political strategy. Chavez has been portraying himself for years as the tough guy, the guy directing military campaigns in lieu of elections; he is the guy that started promising to fry Adecos heads and ended up calling the US president the Devil at the UN, the guy that considers anyone disagreeing with him "an enemy" (not an adversary, not someone with a different opinion, but an enemy as in "we must kill the enemy"). Well, now we learn it was all an act of love for us Venezuelans and that we should return his love by giving him our vote so he gets a little bit more time. The add on right, click to enlarge, is taken, of all places, from El Universal, the much loathed paper in chavista circles.

Unbeleivable! Where are the 10, then 8 million votes? Where is Bush as the real opposition candidate? Where is the international Bolivarian revolution? Why such a shift? Could it be that the preliminary, and already slightly dated, poll results that I discussed earlier today have something to do with it? Rarely we see such a major shift in campaign focus so close from a presidential election unless something is not going right in a given campaign. I coincidentally discussed the Dukakis-Bush campaign of 1988 and that Dukakis campaign is an example on how a campaign tries to shift course dramatically after an invincible lead dwindles to nothing.

Anyway, here is the translation of the text of the add with my comments in blue.

LOVE MESSAGE TO THE PEOPLE OF MY VENEZUELA (“my” Venezuela? Is this a lapsus? What the f..k is that?)

Always, I have done everything out of love.
For the love of trees and rivers, I became a painter (a painter? what? canvas or brick walls? did he exhibit somewhere?)
For the love of knowledge, studies, I left my dearest village, to study
For the love of sports I became a ball player
For the love of the fatherland I became a soldier
For the love of the people I became President, you made me President (who comes up with these lines? Besides, note the capital P in President which in Spanish is not required and which is a way to increase the symbolism of the job)
I have ruled these years out of love (Please!)
For love we did Barrio Adentro
For love we did Mision Robinson
For love we did Mercal
We have done everything for love (note that these 4 last lines are grouped together and represent the only three social programs that have found wide acceptance and some measure of real success even if the efficacy and real reach is more and more questioned
There is a lot left to do. I need more time. (observe two important implications, Chavez implicitly acknowledges that this is all he has to show for, and that whomever wrote this should be fired: justifying 8 years on three “achievements” is rather lame, actually demeaning for the reader that is able of second thought process)

I mean, again, pleeaaase….


Bruni speculates that the add might be more effective than one thinks. After observing that women are not particularly present in Chaevz campaign, perhaps someone had the idea to appeal to that "minority" and hence this new camapaign to soften Chavez and appeal to the middle class housfrau.

Quico takes the battered housfrau approach in discussing the add, and I chime in. He is very right in that psychologically this adds works, intentionally or not, with the mechanics of abused spouses. I beat you up real good but then I come back all contrite, talking of love and carrying roses. He also points out to the hippy language.

And Miguel points out that no matter how nice Chavez tries to pretend to be, soon enough he will contradict himself, this time injecting racism in the campaign in a vile way.

And along this last line, Alek, less subtle and more direct, shows us "the love" that Chavez has been giving us, in a nice selection of pictures from the past.

We are thus left expectant as to whether this new add will be a disaster for the Chavez campaign or if actually some people are going to swallow it. I vote for the former, we know the guy, we slept on the edge with him for 8 years, we could use a few good nights of sleep.

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