January 26, 2019


We Interrupt This Crisis: Trump, Venezuela, and the Crazy Politics of the Shutdown: President Trump intervenes in Caracas but remains stymied on Capitol Hill. (Susan B. Glasser, January 25, 2019, The New Yorker)

For the better part of two years, Rubio has been lobbying Trump to take on Maduro, and on Wednesday he appeared to have succeeded in a big way. Around 1 p.m., the President briefly interrupted his public spat with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over the time and place of the annual State of the Union address to unveil a major intervention in Venezuela: the recognition of Juan Guaidó, the little-known, thirty-five-year-old head of the opposition National Assembly, as the country's legitimate interim leader. Tens of thousands took to the streets in Caracas, and more than a dozen other countries quickly joined the United States in backing Guaidó's claim to the Venezuelan Presidency. Maduro called it a U.S.-backed coup attempt and, in retaliation, ordered the expulsion of American diplomats within seventy-two hours. It's anybody's guess what will happen next. Pretty much all we know for sure is that Trump's surprise decision to throw the United States into the middle of Venezuela's chaos represents a major challenge to a teetering government.

This is not the crisis we expected to be talking about this week. The U.S. government is in its own paralyzed gridlock and Trump's approval rating is cratering because of it. In his announcement, Trump cited Venezuelans' demands for "freedom and the rule of law," which is not exactly the centerpiece of the President's foreign policy toward any other country in the world. Trump and his Administration have not only ignored human-rights abuses in other countries but celebrated some of the world's worst perpetrators of them. He began his Presidency by promising Arab dictators in Riyadh that he would not lecture them and, even in the face of the extrajudicial killing of a U.S. resident, he has stuck to it.

In typical Trump fashion, the decision about Venezuela happened quickly, at the last minute, and apparently without the normal process that would have accompanied such a significant move in any other Administration. On January 10th, Maduro was sworn in for a new term as President, even though the U.S., and much of the rest of the international community, had declared his reëlection, last year, as illegitimate. That seemed to be where the matter stood until January 15th, when Rubio, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee for the Western Hemisphere (and has used that perch to turn himself into what I've often heard referred to as the State Department desk officer for Latin America), took to the Senate floor. Citing the Venezuelan constitutional provision that calls for the head of the National Assembly to assume the Presidency in case of its vacancy, he demanded that the Trump Administration recognize Guaidó as the country's interim leader. Rubio's prodding, along with that of exile groups, sent the Administration "scrambling," McClatchy News reported.

Voted for Donald, got Jeb! and Marco....

Posted by at January 26, 2019 9:49 AM