"We're not going to sully ourselves in the cesspool of the government camp" says Capriles as he hands out free goodies to his supporters…

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For some reason I think it’s ok if I do it…

Yesterday’s Capriles event in Rio Chico, narrowcast live on Capriles.tv, has more or less completed the full-body existential funk I’ve been inhabiting recently.

Talking to a small audience of supporters, Capriles boasted that his program to give away freebies was much better because his will actually deliver your new mattress right to your doorstep.

Yes, really.

It’s the normal politics trap in full swing: a politico stuck in the favor-trading mindset that got us into this mess in the first place, utterly unable to grasp that whether you’re on 52% or 48% no longer matters, and seemingly all too happy to perpetuate spiritual chavismo in a misguided, doomed attempt to gain short-term advantage on political chavismo.

Now, here’s a naïve question: is there a statute of limitation on this guy’s leadership status? I realize we elected him to stand for election on behalf in last October’s election, and maybe we didn’t check the fine print carefully enough, but…is the plan just to spin out that mandate forever?

What exactly is it going to take for the opposition to take a long hard look at the last 18 months, take serious stock of what’s happened, and move to give itself a new leader?

In the developed country democracies, the standard is clear: you fight an election, fail to secure power, you step aside and let a new leader take up the baton. Mitt Romney knows this. Rodríguez Zapatero knows this. Michael Ignatieff knows this. Nicolas Sarkozy knows this. Yoshihiko Noda knows this. It’s one of the defining characteristics of modern democratic politics: it’s not personal, it’s not a dishonor, it’s not an insult. It just is.

So what’s it going to take? Pretty please? With sugar on top?

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