Diminishing returns to the casquillo diet

The government’s latest orchestrated outbreak of opposition-baiting tirades is, frankly, tiresome. Time was when the opposition really could be riled, baited, worked up and even split by a savage enough string of non-sensical public accusations of coup plotting.

It’s a playbook that worked beautifully for chavismo from 2002 through 2006 or so. But the steaming bowls of bullet-casings hit the point of diminishing returns a long long time ago.

From the point of view of the opposition’s ideological development, you could see the last 12 years as a slow, difficult progression towards abjuring the casquillo diet altogether. The undercurrent of panic that shines through chavismo’s the-coup-is-coming harangues these days stems, precisely, from the realization that what used to be easy – goading the opposition into intemperate, anger-led decision-making – has now become very, very hard.

One thing is clear now: the Mesa de la Unidad Democrática is no Coordinadora redux. Organized, methodical and – as it now seems clear – skilled at gaming out the consequences of today’s moves fifteen or twenty moves into the future, we’re no longer the putty-in-the-hands-of-JVR we once were.

What’s novel here is the feeling of having a strategy, too. It may be the right one or it may be the wrong one, but it’s there, it’s been thought out and it’s being applied carefully.

The string of public pronouncements – led by Teodoro but echoed by several others – decrying a few military high official’s flirtation with coupsterism if Chávez loses the 2012 election didn’t just happen by accident.

Turns out we’re the rusos, y nosotros también jugamos…

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