Monday, April 20, 2009


Right-wingers are ginning up controversy about President Obama's handshake with Hugo Chavez of Venezuela (my favorite bit: Newt Gingrich's claim that, by contrast, previous presidents have never been known to "rush over, smile, and greet Russian dictators," which Think Progress found absurdly easy to debunk).

But just getting the vapors about the possibility that Obama might have picked up pinko cooties from touching Chavez isn't enough for the right. The right needs a conspiracy theory.

Enter Rush Limbaugh. Here he is on today's show:

...But back in November of 2006, there was an education forum in Caracas, Venezuela. President Hugo Chavez was there. He had invited Bill Ayers, the man who introduced Barack Obama to Chicago politics. Bill Ayers is a good friend of Barack Obama's. Chavez invites Ayers to come down and attend an education seminar, an education forum in Caracas. And this is what Ayers said. The first thing he did is he "proclaimed his support for 'the profound educational reforms under way here in Venezuela under the leadership of President Chávez. We share the belief,'" Bill Ayers and Chavez, "'that education is the motor-force of revolution. . . . I look forward to seeing how you continue to overcome the failings of capitalist education as you seek to create something truly new and deeply humane.'

"Ayers concluded his speech by declaring that 'Venezuela is poised to offer the world a new model of education -- a humanizing and revolutionary model whose twin missions are enlightenment and liberation.'" Now, Ayers and his buddies at the Annenberg Project and whatever educational projects that Ayers is a part of, he believes that the purpose of education is to indoctrinate public school students in the belief that America is a racist, militarist country, and that the capitalist system is inherently unfair and oppressive. That's Barack Obama's buddy, Bill Ayers (about whom nobody cares during the campaign) in November 2006, getting an award from Hugo Chavez, our new friend in Caracas, Venezuela, praising Chavez for reforming education, turning it into a means of social revolution, opposing capitalism and militarism. And that is what Ayers' curricula here in the United States attempts to do.

Now, again, we're probably going, "Well, Obama didn't know anything about that! Obama didn't know that Ayers went down there. Obama doesn't know what Ayers' curricula construction is all about. Obama doesn't know this." Of course not. No, Obama doesn't know, he just goes down there and yuks it up with the guy when honors his friend, Bill Ayers. He goes down there and accepts a book (Open Veins of Latin America, Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent." Oh, but Obama doesn't know anything about this. "No, no, no, Rush. He can't possibly know anything about this at all." Basically what you got, is you got Bill Ayers down there applauding Hugo Chavez for teaching Marxism in the public schools and agreeing that this is what needs to happen in the United States to get rid of the capitalist system and to get rid of the notion of American militarism.

There it is! It's all one big conspiracy! Ayers is Obama's BFF -- and Chavez's, too! So they're BFFs also! They've essentially been bestest pals (or only one degree of separation from bestest pals) for years! We know Bill Ayers and Barack Obama are two men with but a single mind -- they may as well be the same person! Didn't Ayers ghostwrite Obama's book or something?

Seriously, folks: soon enough, the standard line on the right is going to be not that Obama is being foolishly conciliatory, but rather that he's Chavez's great buddy (or at least a great buddy of a great buddy of Chavez's) from way, way back, so of course he was palsy-walsy with Chavez. Objective reality is for quislings!

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