Posted on 01-11-2009
Filed Under (Foreign Policy) by Rashtrakut

TNR has a post listing winners and losers in the resolution of the Honduras political standoff, a subject that I meant to but did not get around to posting about last week.

This was a messy dispute, with a Chavez wannabe deposed by an elected Congress with the blessings of the Supreme Court who then proceeded to dilute their advantage by shipping the deposed President out of the country instead of bringing him up for charges.

None of the parties in Honduras came off looking well.  The deposed president, Manuel Zelaya, was thumbing his nose at legal institutions and trying to force a referendum on amending the constitution to allow for his re-election.  But this referendum would have also been non-binding.  While President Zelaya was in the wrong by forcing government institutions to administer the referendum in violation of a Supreme Court order, it is hard to see why he had to be bundled out of the country.  His successor, Interim President Roberto Micheletti, did not help matters by being all too eager to suspend constitutional protections in the guise of law and order.  Complicating this whole mess was the removal of the provision in the constitution that would have permitted impeachment of the President.

While the Obama administration was trying to work out the compromise, Republican Senator Jim DeMint tried to undermine American policy by visiting Honduras in support of Zelaya’s ouster. But measured diplomacy, instead on blindly supporting someone who was not a Hugo Chavez supporter, seems to have won the day.

As Honduras clears away the rubble of its constitutional crisis, a good start may be to restore the constitutional provision allowing for impeachment of an overbearing executive.  The Obama Administration has also sent a positive message to Latin America, that it will not blindly support a breakdown of constitutional law and order simply to get rid of an inconvenient leader.  A sea change from 2002 when the Bush administration tacitly blessed the coup against Venezuelan demagogue Hugo Chavez (who seems to have no particular  respect for legal institutions either).

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Posted on 01-11-2009
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

The election in a couple of days will be interesting to watch.  A couple of days I ago I posted that it appeared that Dede Scozzafava was playing the good party soldier.  Now she has gone ahead and endorsed the Democrat Bill Owens.  While the attention in the election cycle in year following the Presidential election is generally focused on Virginia and New Jersey, all eyes will be on a congressional district in upstate New York.

Will Scozzafava’s supporters bother turning out?  Will they vote for her as a protest against a hard-right candidate from outside the district?  Will they fall in line like the Republican establishment and vote for Hoffman?  Will they gravitate towards Owens who may be closer to their ideological prism to begin with like the local paper which switched endorsements?  And how exactly will this quest for ideological purity help the Republican party cobble together a winning electoral coalition outside the South.  Frank Rich of the New York Times sounds off here.

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