It took a few tries, but Hugo Chavez finally ended up on the winning side of a coup last week.
It was back in 1992 that the rascally pseudo-socialist first tried to overthrow Venezuela's government. It didn't work, and Chavez ended up in prison, but his role in the affair elevated him to national status.
Then, after being elected president in a 1998 landslide, Chavez was briefly deposed by another coup in 2002. Granted, his exile lasted just two days, but hey - success is rarely total.
Last week, however, was a whole other story. Despite being one of America's least-favorite leaders, despite being way too cozy with Fidel Castro, despite the fact that for years he has been allegedly arming his citizens in anticipation of the coming US invasion, Chavez got the kind of good press in this country usually reserved for British prime ministers and women scorned by Angelina Jolie.
Chavez, already much in the news following Pat Robertson's call for his assassination last month, was praised for his previous week's rousing anti-Bush speech at the UN's 60th Anniversary Summit. On Tuesday, the AP dubbed him, "The most critical voice at the gathering."
He followed that with visits to some of the poorest Hispanic neighborhoods in New York, waving US and Venezuelan flags while criticizing Bush's response to Hurricane Katrina. Both Jesse Jackson and Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY) offered quotes praising the appearances.
Even the Toronto Globe and Mail was compelled to write, "Spreading the gospel of Hugo Chavez might not be as bad a choice as spreading the gospel of George Bush."
He may be lousy at toppling his own government, but for at least one week, he sure outshone ours.
3. On the right track