Opinions, Context & Ideas from the TPM Editors TPM Editor's Blog

Todays article in the

Today's article in the Times provides the other key to the puzzle I addressed in my article today in Salon on the attempted Venezuelan coup.

As my piece describes, when Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America Otto Reich met with Latin American diplomats at the State Department early last Friday afternoon, he suprised them by not only parroting the rationales and alleged constitutional justifications for the coup, but also providing surprisingly precise pro-coup details of what had happened.

There were rumors among Latin America specialists in DC yesterday that at the meeting Reich had had a "document" laying out the constitutional rationale for the coup. Based on my conversations with diplomats who were present at the meeting, this seems not to have been the case. At least to the extent of there not being a "document."

However, he did seem to have been briefed on the details provided by, and the arguments of, the coup plotters. This is what made a number of the diplomats present at the meeting suspicious. In Washington parlance, Reich seemed to be reading from the coup plotters ... well, talking points.

In any case, today's article by Christopher Marquis in the Times confirms that Reich had in fact been in phone contact on Friday with Pedro Carmona Estanga, the man who briefly assumed the presidency during Chavez's overthrow. Reich apparently tried to counsel him on the management of the coup, specifically, trying to dissuade him from foolish and ultimately fatal expedient of dissolving the National Assembly. It's unclear from the article whether this was before or after he State Department meeting, but I think it's safe to assume it was before.

(Check out the Salon article to see the other embarrassing things Reich said at the meeting -- and why the representative of Argentina was not at all happy.)

I think this is trouble for the administration. Nothing earth-shattering, but trouble. Everything they admit brings up a half a dozen more questions. It's an uncomfortable mix of bad acts and incompetence. I don't think this story is going away.

Dont cry for me

Don't cry for me, Argentina? The reference will become clear when you read the article I wrote for Salon.com this evening. It's about an embarrassing moment for America's national honor that took place last Friday afternoon at the State Department.

If you want to

If you want to join and be Netanyahu's supporter, or/and If you want to be active and participate in activities for Netanyahu's return - or/and If you want to receive news from the site, Please fill this form or send us email

Those are the reassuring words from the "Yes I Support" section of the Netanyahu.org website.

Netanyahu's return -- yikes!

Stop by the site. You can see the shameless adventurer's photo album, the 'media' page which leads with a blurb for Bernard Goldberg's Bias, and of course a transcript of the speech he gave before the US Senate criticizing Colin Powell a few days back.

Benjamin Netanyahu truly is a man for every train wreck.

It's a real stain on Joe Lieberman's judgement that he participated in that ill-conceived stunt.

You heard it here

You heard it here first. Dems are set to start whacking the president for doing a lot of campaign travelling on the public dime, i.e., using Air Force One for campaign trips without reimbursing the public treasury. Actually, they have a better argument than you might imagine. More soon.

There may not be

There may not be a groundswell of support for John McCain becoming a Democrat to run for president in 2004. But there is a groundswell of articles telling him to do it. Josh Green's piece in the Washington Monthly went up today. And tomorrow Jon Chait's piece on the same topic is going online on the New Republic website. I happen to know that neither of these guys is following the other. There's just some weird McCain-as-Dem-for-President mojo going around. Also, it's some strange online journalism, game-theory moment: both pubs are scooping their print mags to get their pieces on the web first.

There was a short

There was a short email circulating in Goreland today. It was from one of the folks at Gore's new Leadership PAC, Leadership '02. Here's the first part of it. Take a look and then we'll discuss.

1Q Federal Receipts

Dashpac (Daschle): $62,158
Leadership '02: $502,482
New American Optimists (Edwards): $187,750
ROCPAC (Lieberman): $642,469

Leadership '02 received contributions from 859 supporters (and some even gave more than once). Our median contribution was $25.

Thanks again, to those you helped make our filing a big success! Please let me know if you have any questions about the filings.

What can we glean from this? Well, a few things. Kerry's numbers are hard to figure since he's currently raising money which is nominally going to his Senate reelection campaign for this Fall. And he's raising a ton.

Second, Gore's amount is reasonably impressive, considering he's just gotten started with new fund-raising.

Third, Lieberman's obviously raising some decent change and I'll bet his median contribution is a touch larger than $25.

But real political mandarins will immediately see that the real revelation in this email is that John Edwards or someone in his shop is one hard-core doofus. Why? New American Optimists? My god, was Patriots for Fun! and Americans for Niceness already taken? What a goofball.

Good piece by Paul

Good piece by Paul Krugman on the fiasco of the US reaction to the overthrow and then un-overthrow of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. The degree of embarrassment this represents has presumably been eclipsed by the crisis in the Mideast. One point Krugman alludes to is how clumsy and cliched a coup this turned out to be. The protests included a fairly broad section of the population -- business groups, labor groups, the church. But the new 'president', Pedro Carmona Estanga, assembled a government which excluded all but a series of business leaders and also dissolved the national assembly and all sorts of other good things. The whole gambit was turning into a set piece from some really bad example of fifties-era socialist realist fiction. In the end, even the military leaders who had launched the coup decided it had gone too far. They withdrew their support and the whole thing fell apart. And now we see the first signs in the mainstream press that the Bush administration may actually have had a hand in the coup itself.

Two further points on

Two further points on Israel. A couple nights ago CNN replayed a Larry King Live interview with Yitzhak Rabin, Arafat and King Hussein. Watching that interview brought home just how much was lost when Rabin was assassinated a few months later in November 1995. Looking back, I think it was clearly the pivotal moment in the entire peace process, the entire decade of the 1990s for the Israelis and the Palestinians.

After that came Shimon Peres' prime ministership. As much as I've always had a warm place in my heart for Peres, he's never enjoyed the deep trust of the Israeli electorate, certainly not the level of trust needed in late 1995 and 1996. Then came the adventurer and opportunist Netanyahu, who had fanned the fires before Rabin's death and proceeded to further sabotage the negotiations while in office.

Netanyahu's folly led to his downfall and the election of Barak. But Barak was no Rabin and in any case perhaps too much had already happened by the time he was elected in 1999. In any case, the fatal mistake of Arafat and the Palestinians -- turning down the offer at Camp David in 2000 -- led to the historical accident of Sharon. And here we are.

Perhaps only Rabin had the toughness, the vision, the credibility and (perhaps most important) the innate skepticism about the peace process itself which made success possible.

It was a profound loss.

The second point: Barak's OpEd in the Times yesterday seems the best part of wisdom and realism anybody is voicing at the moment.

TPMLivewire