The company you keep
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez said on Tuesday that he and Cuban ally Fidel Castro risk being more conservative than U.S. President Barack Obama as Washington prepares to take control of General Motors Corp.
During one of Chavez's customary lectures on the "curse" of capitalism and the bonanzas of socialism, the Venezuelan leader made reference to GM's bankruptcy filing, which is expected to give the U.S. government a 60 percent stake in the 100-year-old former symbol of American might.
"Hey, Obama has just nationalized nothing more and nothing less than General Motors. Comrade Obama! Fidel, careful or we are going to end up to his right," Chavez joked on a live television broadcast.
It's probably not true in some sort of absolute sense. I don't expect America's fearless leader to out-nationalize Venezuela's fearless leader, and there's no talk yet of President Obama inserting hosannas to himself in school texts or sending the Obamatons out to pound on the opposition.
But it is telling, I think.