Ambrose: Hugo Chavez can give Hollywood big thanks for delusional praise 

Oliver Stone, a politically dim bulb wishing to shine bright with his new idolizing documentary on Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, says he has just one complaint about the guy: He’s on TV too much.

And so finally, after years of deep immersion in loony, leftist ideology, the Hollywood director has a solitary insight. Sadly, he understates it. According to a news report, Stone said Chavez is “overpowering” with his many hours of almost-daily rambles in which he mixes lectures, news and occasional songs.

If it were not likely he would just make things worse, you might advise him to tend instead to an economy rendered one of the world’s worst by an 11-year set of policies Stone refers to as a wonderfully laudable “social transformation.”

Jackson Diehl, a Washington Post editorialist, ably sums up the transformational actuality. The Venezuelan inflation rate of 30 percent is three times higher than any other place in Latin America. The gross national product of Venezuela was down in the first quarter by almost 6 percent.

This, observers report, manifests itself in cruel ways: four-hour-a-day electricity blackouts, ever-fewer jobs, woeful wages, rampaging crime and a lack of food.

While drought is a factor, the main reasons given for the debacle are willy-nilly confiscation of private property, arresting business operators for raising prices when insolvency was the alternative, ignoring infrastructure for transient goals and various other progressive policies.

But the poor are being treated more equitably, right? Not according to a former economist with the Venezuelan government. In parts of an essay available online, he said Chavez had done next to nothing in his first eight years to increase the portion of the national budget devoted to programs for the poor.

You can be sent to jail for 2½ years if you criticize Chavez. If you’re a reporter who is “inaccurate,” the sentence is five years. He has chased political opponents out of the country. And, Chavez has taken control of the Supreme Court.

But here is what you get from Stone and some other Hollywood buddies: Hugo is just as nifty as nifty gets.

Does this flapdoodle matter? Yes, because these clowns lend this tyrant credibility when there are elections coming up this year for the Legislature and then the presidency, and because a defeated Chavez just might be that much more inclined to resort to military power if emboldened by heil-Hitler reverence. Even stupid ideas can have consequences.

Examiner columnist Jay Ambrose is a former Washington opinion writer and editor of two dailies. He can be reached at


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