September 21, 2006


Harkin defends Venezuelan President's U-N speech against Bush (Darwin Danielson, 9/21/06, Radio Iowa)

Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, a democrat, today defended Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's United Nations speech in which Chavez called President George Bush the devil. Harkin said the comments were "incendiary", then went on to say, "Let me put it this way, I can understand the frustration, ah, and the anger of certain people around the world because of George Bush's policies." Harkin continued what has been frequent criticism of the president's foreign policy.

Senator Harkin was on the wrong side in the Cold War too, if you'll recall:

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 21, 2006 5:20 PM

Uh, I realize that y'all like to have a bit of fun with liberals...but don't you think tactics like this just make you look like dumb jerks? How many conservative leaders have been photographed shaking hands with the wrong people? Context matters. Harkin, Kerry, et al. are hardly Sandinistas. It's dishonest and moronic to suggest they are. I'm not expecting anything other than a mocking reply, but that's my two cents.

Posted by: Jeremy Adam Smith at September 21, 2006 6:19 PM

You are right, Kerry was Viet Cong.

Posted by: Bob at September 21, 2006 6:31 PM

I suppose I could mention that nobody SAID Kerry or Harkin were Sandanista until Mr. Smith brought it up - but I doubt it would matter.

Posted by: John Barrett Jr. at September 21, 2006 6:43 PM

Sandistas non. Supporters of the Sandis? Si, si senor.

(The broad in the background looks like she's got quite a thing for Ortega)

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at September 21, 2006 6:55 PM


Forget the labels. Just look at the faces of the four people in the picture. Don't their eyes tell you something?

Posted by: Peter B at September 21, 2006 6:58 PM

There's si si in their eyes senor.

Posted by: erp at September 21, 2006 7:00 PM

Mr. Smith:

To the contrary, the Democrats were pro-Sandinista, which is why they passed the Bolland Amendment. It becomes you though to think that reality too shameful to contemplate.

Posted by: oj at September 21, 2006 7:08 PM

Jeremy: there's a crucial difference between "shaking hands with the wrong people" and eagerly going to meet the wrong people so that you can shake hands with them and chit-chat about items of mutual agreement.

Posted by: PapayaSF at September 21, 2006 7:43 PM

No, he has that part right--the Reagan administration eagerly backed Saddam and it was a mistake, one driven by anti-Iranian hysteria.

Posted by: oj at September 21, 2006 8:05 PM

If they have a history of being Useful Idiots, why is it impropper to point it out?

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at September 21, 2006 8:18 PM


How about discussing Jim Wright, who wasn't in this photograph but actually tried some private negotiations with Ortega himself? Was he just there for a photo op, too?

Posted by: jim hamlen at September 21, 2006 9:04 PM

Isn't it Chris Dodd (D)'s former(?) female head aide who has a hard-on for these guys and stopped what's his name from getting a position cos he was against Danny-Boy?

Supporters/useful idiots/on the other side for over 20 years, JAS.

Posted by: Sandy P at September 21, 2006 9:34 PM

There's admiration in the facial expressions of Harkin, Kerry, et al. in the above photo as they meet Mr. Ortega. BTW, your blog is quite interesting and thought provoking!

Posted by: Dave W at September 21, 2006 10:05 PM

Nguyen Ngoc Loan, where are you now that we need you?

Posted by: Lou Gots at September 21, 2006 11:30 PM

These are pretty much the responses I expected.

Check this out:

Is that....a smile I see on Don's lips? Could it be?

You think they're chitchating about items of mutual agreement?

Posted by: Jeremy Adam Smith at September 22, 2006 1:28 PM

Mr. Smith:

Yes, that's precisely the point.

Just as Mr. Harkin and Mr. Kerry were meeting with an ally of theirs.

Posted by: oj at September 22, 2006 3:55 PM

Ba Da Bing! oj nicely set up. The polite troll didn't see it coming.

Posted by: erp at September 22, 2006 6:29 PM


So, are you prepared to condemn FDR because he was photographed with Stalin?

Posted by: jim hamlen at September 22, 2006 7:52 PM



Posted by: oj at September 22, 2006 8:41 PM

Jeremy and OJ are both wrong. Meeting, as President or an administration official, with a bad guy on enemy-of-my-enemy grounds is distasteful but excusable, so FDR gets a pass on Stalin because of Hitler, and Reagan/Rumsfeld get a pass on Saddam because of Iran.

On the other hand, Harkin and Kerry don't get a pass, because they were simply cozying up to a communist dictator out of ideological sympathy, and perhaps to thwart Reagan's policies, not because they were working to defend the interests of the country against a greater threat.

By the way, how is it that Ortega is still politically active, despite the fact that his stepdaughter says he sexually abused her starting at age 11? Not a lot of family values voters in Nicaragua?

Posted by: PapayaSF at September 22, 2006 9:59 PM

Actually, since they had so little power and we disposed of the Sandinistas so easily, they can perhaps be forgiven. Rummy/Reagan and FDR have blood on their hands.

Posted by: oj at September 22, 2006 10:05 PM


I didn't need to ask you. But I doubt if Jeremy will answer.

Of course, the same question could be asked about Robert MacFarlane's meeting with the Iranians (in 1986) - although there were no photos of that, as I understand. Or Brent Scowcroft's trip to China in the fall of 1989. Or even Kissinger's dance with the North Vietnamese in 1972-3. And so on.

Posted by: jim hamlen at September 22, 2006 11:39 PM

What about Bill Clinton's fervent embrace of (and then refusal to strong-arm) Arafat?

Posted by: ratbert at September 22, 2006 11:43 PM

Remember Marcos too!

Posted by: Dave W at September 23, 2006 12:39 PM

Hmmm. I think you guys are missing my point by a country mile, which has nothing to do with whether it was OK for Rummy to meet with Hussein or Kerry to meet with Ortega. PapayaSF was actually the closest to see my point, but it's time for me to move on. Thanks, and perhaps I'll continue to troll here, politely.

Posted by: Jeremy Adam Smith at September 23, 2006 4:55 PM

Your point though is excellent, even if accidental. All three cases where American pols met with Stalinists -- FDR, Rumsfeld, Kerry/Harkin -- were cases where they were meeting with "allies" on the wrong side of a fight.

Of course, unlike Rumsfeld and FDR, Kerry and Harkin were actually meeting with an enemy.

Posted by: oj at September 23, 2006 7:30 PM