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Chavez is gone: The left seeks a new idol

Cancer has taken the life of Venezuelan strong man Hugo Chavez, giving the people of that nation a chance for more freedom than they knew under his 14-year autocracy. Distraught American leftists, some actually in mourning, will have to find another thug to embrace, aid and emulate.

Every generation produces foreign tyrants who find warm friendships here by employing one simple formula: 1. Proclaim one's self a socialist champion of the people; 2. Denounce the United States of America. The formula never fails. Employ it, and you can silence, imprison, torture and even kill your own people with the unqualified support of the American hard left.

Chavez was only the latest in the long parade of despots to use this ruse to great success. His 1992 coup attempt killed 18 people. No matter, it was in the name of socialism. He ruled Venezuela in part by suppressing the media and the political opposition, imprisoning and intimidating opponents, journalists and judges, and positioning himself as a vocal and active enemy of the United States.

In the end, Oliver Stone and Sean Penn called him "friend" and mourned his death. Former Rep. Joe Kennedy was his champion, as was a Democratic congressman from New York.

Amnesty International's 2012 report on Venezuela documents numerous civil rights abuses committed by the state. Chavez was in real life the despot fevered leftists imagined George W. Bush to be. But because he ruled in the name of their beloved socialism, they looked the other way (or they tacitly approved). Now they will search the globe for another brutal, despotic idol. If only Kim Jong Un had a better PR department.

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