Today's Blogs

The Guns of Augusto

It’s a big day for evaluating the intentions of powerful men, as bloggers look back on the life and times of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. They also assess Kofi Annan’s criticisms of U.S. foreign policy, and interpret presidential contender Mitt Romney’s 1994 letter to the Log Cabin Republicans.

The guns of Augusto: Besides a few hundred supporters at his funeral in Santiago, Augusto Pinochet’s only mourner seems to be former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The former Chilean dictator’s death has bloggers reflecting on his reign and the United States’ role in his coup against democratically elected Salvador Allende.

Liz Henry at BlogHer, a blogging community for women, feels a “strange sense of relief … and hope that Pinochet’s death helps bring a small amount of closure or peace to the people whose suffering he caused. … I feel a little bit of that fierce gladness that he’s dead.”

Oliver Kamm, a “left-wing” British blogger and journalist, attempts to debunk myths surrounding the dictator. “Pinochet was a thug, and his rule was a tragedy for Chile,” writes Kamm. “But the most enduring historical offence committed by Pinochet - not that I wish by saying this to belittle the suffering of his victims - was a political one. Chile had been an exemplary democratic state. It was governed under the rule of law, with habeus corpus, free elections and a free press. Allende - a vain and incompetent President - had scant regard for the worth of these constitutional mechanisms. Pinochet went much further than that, and broke them altogether.”

At the National Review’s The Corner, Jonah Goldberg is on the watch for hypocrisy from all sides and plays the Cuba card: “Fidel Castro is going to die sooner rather than later. And when that happens, you’re going to hear crickets chirping in certain quarters of the left before you hear similar denunciations of Castro, who remains more of a tyrant than Pinochet was. … So I will … simply note that working with S.O.B.’s is fundamental to foreign policy. It was yesterday, is now, and will be tomorrow and ever after.”

Read more about Pinochet here. In Slate,Christopher Hitchens details the dictator’s crimes here.

So long, Kofi: Today, Kofi Annan gave one of his final speeches as U.N. secretary-general. The Washington Post carried a truncated version of the speech, which included blistering criticism of the Bush administration’s policies.

In her comments at Canadian news blog IndieScribe, Evelyn Dreiling had a sense of opportunities lost. “These are very good comments from the former Secretary General. Too bad he couldn’t have used this language while he still had the clout.”

Kel, writing at the the lefty Osterley Times, agreed Annan’s remarks will likely be ineffectual. “It is mostly a wake up call to Americans to face up to the responsibility that comes from finding yourself in a position of such privilege. It will never be heeded, but they are fine words despite that.”

Conservative commentator Michelle Malkin summed up the right’s criticism of Annan: “Like Kofi Annan knows anything about remaining true to principles? He leaves behind a feckless, corrupted, global bureaucracy incapable of policing the predators in its ranks, unwilling to stand up to evil, and useless in the struggle against terrorism–or any other global threat. And it’s all President Bush’s and America’s fault. Good riddance to you and your wagging finger, Kofi Annan. You will not be missed.” But the history teacher behind Betsy’s Page worries she won’t have a chance to miss Annan. “I somehow think that he will be back for the next 20 years, cropping up periodically to both deplore and excuse terrorism by others, yet blame Israel and the United States for reacting to protect themselves. He and Jimmy Carter will be able to go on tour together.”

Read more about Kofi’s speech here.

Uncle Mitt’s Cabin: Conservatives are trying to figure out where exactly ‘08 presidential candidate Mitt Romney stands on gay rights. In 1994, he sent a letter to the Massachusetts Log Cabin Republicans, pledging to be a stronger advocate for gay rights than his opponent in that race, Sen. Ted Kennedy, and the letter has resurfaced, giving some bloggers pause.

“Comments like these and his past statements on abortion from his past campaigns are going to give him fits here in Iowa,” forecasts Hershel Krustofski at Krusty Konservative, a blog from “Right of Center, Iowa.” “Pro-Romney people like to make excuses for his past remarks by saying that Romney was running for office in the bluest of blue states, and any Republican is better than a Democrat. That sort of logic should worry any conservative. It seems as if Romney likes to wet his finger and see which way the wind is blowing instead of standing on principal.”

At Outright Libertarians, an association of GLBT Libertarian Party activists and supporters, Richard Newell sees delicious irony in Romney’s change of heart. “Though never fully in support of most gay rights, the turnaround in his positions in the last three to ten years is nevertheless breathtaking,” writes Newell. “[I]t seems the people he is really shocking are the national social-conservative base he was building. …Wouldn’t it be ironic if it were the Religious Right he has been so actively courting that killed Romney’s chance at the presidency?”

Read more about Romney’s letter here.