Here’s what Diehl wrote on November 19:
In 13 days, abetted by intimidation and overt violence that has included the gunning down of student protesters, Chávez will become the presumptive president-for-life of a new autocracy, created by a massive revision of his own constitution. Venezuela will join Cuba as one of two formally “socialist” nations in the Western hemisphere. This “revolution” will be ratified by a Dec. 2 referendum that Chávez fully expects to win despite multiple polls showing that only about a third of Venezuelans support it. Many people will abstain from voting rather than risk the retaliation of a regime that has systematically persecuted those who turned out against Chávez in the past.
I’m glad Chavez lost the referendum, but Venezuela during his tenure has never resembled the totalitarian dungeon that is portrayed in American op-ed pages. And it’s a world apart from the real dictatorships run by America’s closest allies around the globe, and of which pundits like Cohen and Diehl are far more indulgent.