Confessions of a Rosales Skeptic

Quico says: Well, imagine my surprise when I saw Alek Boyd over at vCrisis getting all breathless over Manuel Rosales’s candidacy. Calling him Venezuela’s next president, Alek is sure Rosales can overcome the dirty-tricks up CNE’s sleeve to work his way to Miraflores.

I guess Alek and I are destined never to agree on anything, but I just don’t see it. At this stage in the game, though, he really should know better than to cite Nelson Bocaranda’s supposed leaks showing wildly unlikely polling leads for the opposition’s man.

More widely – and here my disagreement is as much with Katy as with Alek – I think it’s wrong to laud the “unity of the opposition” behind Rosales’ candidacy. The unification of the anti-Chavez political class behind a single contender is just what Chavez needs to pull his tried-and-true mudslinging operation. Because, as JVR and Chavez have noticed – but Alek and Katy fail to see – the opposition political class is wildly unpopular in the country at large.

And, therefore, being backed by the oppo political class as a whole is a net negative for an anti-Chavez candidate, not a net positive.

For my money, the unity of the opposition is an entelechy. The more traditional oppo talking heads line up behind Rosales, the easier it is for Chavez to discredit him as a “widow of puntofijismo.”

The one chance the anti-Chavez forces had in this election was to find a credible, charismatic outsider to triangulate the election by running equidistantly from both Chavez and the traditional oppo political class. Only such a candidate could’ve made progress with the massive block of politically homeless (or Ni-Ni) voters that will decide this election, but who will likely either vote for Chavez or stay home if they perceive the alternative to be a representative of the traditional opposition political class.

Unfortunately, neither of the outsiders who came forward quite fit the bill. Roberto Smith turned out to be credible but not charismatic. Benjamin Rausseo turned out to be charismatic but not credible.

By backing Rosales, the middle class opposition heartland is re-editing the rock-solid “unity” of the first days of the general strike. Once again, we have a “unity” built around a consensus that is universal in the middle class and therefore imagined to be universal in the country at large, because our middle class again and again mistakes itself for the country at large. Unity around the tactical mistake of lining up behind a guy who cannot and will not win over the politically homeless, much less the transactional chavista vote.

My guess is that Chavez is going to win in December without even having to cheat.

Granted, I’m far away, maybe my brain has been cooked solid by the Sicilian sun, imaginably I’m way off base here. (In fact, I really hope so – GOD do I hope so.) But I really don’t see this one going well.