Hugo Chavez died last week, and though he won't be missed around the house, his funeral was attended by the usual list of sub-luminary suspects. Iran's walking fruitcake, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, showed up. Mahmoud was strangly quiet, perhaps not wanting to draw needless attention to himself or the explosion which took place at one of Iran's nuclear sites that he says never happened.
Also present was actor Sean Penn who's never met a leftist dictator he didn't like. According to Penn, America has lost "a friend we never knew we had." Of course, it's America's fault that the opportunity was missed.
The Right-Reverend Jesse Jackson, who never, ever, wastes a photo-op, was in attendance, but Danny Glover and Oliver Stone, perhaps too emotionally distraught, were not. Instead, they issued tear-stained, admiring statements professing loving respect for their departed friend. Perhaps sending flowers was much too inadequate a gesture to convey their feelings of loss. Better, and much more fitting that the whole world know how they felt.
The Right-Reverend Jackson, whose only real claim to the leadership of Professional Race-Hustlers of America (PRHA) is that he happened to be present at the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., outdid them all. It wasn't enough that everyone was aware of his presence. The mood had to be lightened.
Mr. Chavez, was a man of the people, and he wouldn't have wanted tears. Or pity. Baby Huey was a "good time guy," and Mr. Jackson had something profound to say about him. It would be something that would get everyone's attention, and by God, he'd say it come hell or high water.
In an interview from Caracas with Wolf Blitzer, the Right-Reverend Jackson compared the late Mr. Chavez to America's Founding Fathers.
"Well, you know," the Right-Reverend Jackson mused, "democracies mature. Our first 15 presidents owned people. They owned slaves." Even Blitzer seemed stunned and confused.
"Are you really comparing Hugo Chavez to George Washington, or Thomas Jefferson, or James Madison?" he asked, while at the same time ignoring several other obvious discrepancies. To be fair, he had only so much air time.
"Well, democracies evolve," the Right-Reverend Jackson clarified. "My point is that our first 15 presidents owned slaves and called it democracy for (about 200) years." Oh.
Let's do the math here. Our first 15 presidents served from 1789-1860. Back at Sacred Heart of Jesus School in the late '50s-early '60s, that was a period of 71 years, a far cry from 200. Of course, that was then. With the teacher's unions in charge these days, who knows how they calculate time periods today? If the teacher's unions have changed the numbers, the second part of the the Right-Reverend Jackson's "called it" statement might actually be correct by their reckoning, but it doesn't seem reasonable. Even Abraham Lincoln's "four-score and seven years ago" lead into his Gettysburg Address amounts to only 87 years.
But for a supposedly educated man to utter the fantastic statement that "our first 15 presidents owned slaves" is preposterous. Where is Candy Crowley when we actually need a fact-checker? Wait. Scratch that. She wouldn't have her facts any more straight than the Right-Reverend Jackson did. She'd likely agree with Jackson.
Even a superficial glance at a list of American Presidents should have alerted the Right-Reverend Jackson that his facts were, well, not factual. Only 11 of our first 15 Presidents actually owned slaves. Our 2nd President, John Adams, did not. Neither did his son, 6th President John Quincey Adams. Nor did 13th President Millard Fillmore or his successor, President number 14, Franklin Pierce.
James Buchanan, President number 15, who some historians believe was actually our first gay President, bought two slaves from his brother-in-law, but he immedately freed them.
Ulysses S. Grant freed his only slave in 1859, long before he won election in 1868.
Facts are not really all that important to a race-hustler like the Right-Reverend Jackson. What's a 130-year difference if it keeps race at the forefront of everyone's conscious?
Even though he tried to get clarification of Mr. Jackson's ludicrous comparison, Wold Blitzer let the Right-Reverend's answer hanging in the air. It isn't that Mr. Blitzer didn't raise the issue that the Right-Reverend's statement was mistaken to the point of dishonesty, it's that he didn't press him for an honest answer.
Because Blitzer let Mr. Jackson's disingenous comparison pass unchallenged, ditzy as he clearly thought it was, how long will it be before it's taught as historical fact in our public schools? Hugo "Baby Huey" Chavez right up there next to George Washington and Benjamin Franklin.
It enough to make one sick.