Is Leopoldo López Venezuela’s Rick Perry?

I was reading through the excellent comments debate that followed Juan’s Capriles post – really, it’s been a long time since so much good stuff came out in our forum – and suddenly it struck me: where’s Leopoldo?

Even among my readers, who should be friendly ideological territory if ever there was one, the guy barely rates a mention. The CaracasChronicles primary, at least, is a head-to-head between MCM and Henrique.

The gap between how strong a candidate we figured LL might be  and his performance so far has been staggering. His messaging’s all over the place, his ads self-aggrandizing and memorable for all the wrong reasons, his delivery weirdly flat. The guy just has no buzz and looks to come a distant third.

What happened?

62 thoughts on “Is Leopoldo López Venezuela’s Rick Perry?

  1. La verdad es que no entiendo por que gastar tanto tiempo y teclado en Leopoldo, si no va pal’baile, tan simple como eso !!

    Leopoldo debiera endosar sus simpatías a otro candidato y no confundir el tema de las primarias, eso si lo haría presidenciable para la próxima!

    Pero como esta actuando actualmente esta metiendo la pata, y se lo cobraran en el futuro, una lastima por que es el que tiene la mejor pasta para presidente!!

    • ahí está la clave: “esta actuando”. Y bien lo hace en frente de la cámara o el video. Pero bajo presión y en frente de un público, resulta menos preparado de lo que debería ser. La chillería de la esposa, en un tiempo, tampoco le ayudó a LL. En fin, a este patiquín le hace falta más experiencia,

    • Sorry, in this hour and in the time to come, what the country needs the least is an empty suit so full of himself.

  2. I really do not understand why wasting time and effort in Leopoldo, who is not a legit candidate, he can’t be president this time!

    For now, the correct thing to do by Leopoldo is support another candidate and make clear the way for the best candidate to win, that will be a n excellent gesture of his part and will get him brownie points in his quest for the presidency next time .

    Bad omen if he continue as it is, the voters will not forget his prepotency.

      • It is clever, but also horrible because of Perry’s stance on many issues. I can see how, performance-wise, LL is pulling a Perry, but it is an odious comparison at the personal level. Poor guy!

        • It’s only odious to someone intolerant of other people’s points of view. I don’t like Perry, and disagree with him on a lot of things, but I don’t find him odious.

          We need to be more open-minded here. Calling people odious just because you disagree with them stifles debate.

          • There are many ways to disagree, and if someone’s opinions do call for all kinds of hatred that is at the very root of “odious”.

          • hear hear JC… yesterday’s debate about HCR became pretty rough intolerancy wise. it’s like the serpent ouroboros eating it’s tail. the guys in this patio should acknowledge one becomes in the end what one detests…

          • Juan, I try to be open minded, but everything has its limits.

            I mean, this guy wants to get people like me in jail because of what we do in the privacy of our homes, that is a great qualifier for “odious”.

            This is a guy that has sent several people to death despite great doubts in their records, some of them almost certainly were innocent. And he has opposed the research about these cases.

            Sending an innocent man to death, and even worse, opposing finding out about whether if he is guilty for real. If that is not odious, specially for a Catholic, that values the sanctity of life, then I do not know what it is, Juan.

            • Guido,
              I don’t like the death penalty any more than you, but to say Perry has “sent” people to death is not correct. All these people had their day in court .Yes, Texas is “odious” in how it hands out the death penalty like if it was gum, but a lot of people think the death penalty is a good weapon against murderers. It’s a disagreement, a fundamental one, but a disagreement nonetheless.

              For example, I disagree with Barack Obama on the issue of abortion, but I’m not going to call him odious or blame him for “sending thousands of babies to their deaths.”

              I can imagine there are people living in Texas who have to suffer through Mr. Perry’s policies. Those people probably have a case in calling him “odious.” But I suspect that’s not the case here.

            • Well, Juan, I think everyone should have the right to call anyone else odious. We can always debate on whether the epitome is right. It’s not like calling someone a wanker.

            • To me, as Human Rights Maximalist, everywhere HR are affronted, we all have not only the right, but the duty to raise our voices. It’s the least we can do. After all, neither Mugabe or Ahmadinejad, or the Afghan Taliban affect any of us directly.

              OK, I modify slightly my argument. He has refused to pardon people that might have been innocent. Not only that, but actively stopped research that could settle the issue of culpability. That’s worse than death penalty, that’s monstrous. I can understand the argument for death penalty, even if I don’t like it (call me comeflor, if you want), but there’s absolutely no possible sane argument against further research in dubious cases. If you are going to kill somebody because he did something that voids his right to life, at least you gotta be certain that that person in fact did it.

              If the odious people of the world were called what they are more often, if they were challenged, as opposed to respected, if ruthless authority would be opposed, our world would be really different.

              Perry is odious, there’s no doubt about it.

              PS: As for Obama, let’s say my Dem friends are fuming at me because I do not like one bit his record on civil liberties and I am not shy to say it.

            • BTW, be assured that if this guy or some other would want to get you in jail because you’re Catholic or because you have more than one kid, I’d call him that and more. It’s not because he is a Republican or because he wants to get gay people in jail.

            • “If you are going to kill somebody because he did something that voids his right to life, at least you gotta be certain that that person in fact did it.”

              …*and* that the one who did it isn’t still out there.

        • I probably went too far with that headline.

          Just to be clear, I’m not likening LL to RP. I’m likening the gap between their pre-primary season promise and their primary season performance.

          Get real, six months ago we thought LL had a real shot at this thing. Now the question is whether he’ll crack 10%…

          • Yes, I saw where your comparison was coming from: (Perry’s) image and demeanor, perceived popularity, and then his obstreperous crash when facing a microphone made it easy to draw a resemblance. But as you say, it was a bit too far given Perry’s other (odious) traits.
            For what it is worth, I may also have had a crossed linguistic wire when thinking of “no seas odioso” en caraqueño. Yet, in English I stand by my choice of words, for a character who appeals to the worst in people like Perry, Gingrich or Bachman do “odious” is quite the right word, and it does not close a possible dialogue — it had been shot long before.

          • And what makes you think MCM will beat him? I don’t think she will, her numbers continue to be horrible.

      • In Texas Perry is a good Governor partly because in Texas, a Governors power is severely limited. A Texas Governor must be extremely persuasive to convince a legislature to do anything for him as he has no direct powers over the legislature. Enough on that. In Texas we’d call LL “All hat and no cattle.”

  3. I’m really happy that Leopoldo is at a distant third. When you see his TV spots (the farmville and the winning race spots) the first thing that comes into my mind is ridiculous, but whe I see the message I get afraid because depp inside I fear a populist that has to be taken carefully. See the race spot. “My goal is a better Venezuela”, and is a race among his followers where he is allways ahead and when he finds obstacules, the others racers step aside and help him to remove it? I don’t get the message. I would prefer “Our goal is a better Venezuela” and a lot of people helping each other to reach the goal. And the final words “because popular will can’t be disobey by anybody” for me are clearly populist.
    So, Is Leopoldo an authoritarian fellow? slips my mind. But my perception is: yes. It doesn’t matter is true or not, but that is the only thing it takes to discard him because I don’t understand his proposals. That’s the problem when candidates appeal to my emotions instead of my reason.
    Besides he focus principally in the security subject and that´s ok. But I don’t know what is on his mind about education, economy, international affairs, taxes, oil, borders, public heatlhcare, pensions, jobs. I know that security is on the mind of the many of us that remains in Venezuela, but for me is not sufficient.
    The critics is for every candidate. But this is the one that scares me (And Pablo Medina but that doesn’t matter)

  4. An excellent observation. Nine months ago LL would have had three votes in our household, today he has none. Why? Maybe his sex appeal amongst the ladies has withered in favour of more important presidential realities and requirements, maybe his campaign has been off target (we know that security is a major factor – but it”s not the ONLY one as LL seems to keep plugging), maybe his backing by Salas, maybe his youthfull appearance is just a bit too youthfull and I agree that he might make a good candidate in 12 years time or so. So lots of maybe – and that maybe is the reason. Just not enough hard character winning presence.

    • Yes, his campaign has not been brilliant, and his performance in the debates was dissapointing. But so far he is the only guy talking about concrete plans. I think there are another factors.
      First, the unfair supreme court ruling that almost took all the air out of his campaign. I talked to my mother and sisters just ruled Leopoldo out because he’s in a political/legal limbo. I guess that there are a lot of people who think this way.
      Second, people just LOVE to jump on the bandwagon. Capriles is the front-runner and a lot of persons will vote for him just because that. He’s ahead in the polls and everybody wants a winner. That’s why politicians keep wasting money on fake/rigged polls. Is there a better way to lull gullible people than showing them that their leaders are beloved by all and are nothing but the best?

      • Yes, the Supreme court ruling was an important factor also. As you rightly say there was a long period of uncertainty and a feeling that if he did win the primaries he would not have been allowed to run in October, and maybe that is still a factor.

  5. And once again, wasting time on people that are neither the front-runner nor the runner-up. Why? I am still expecting some serious thoughts about what are potential pitfalls in a Capriles vs. Chavez campaign, or whether he’s prepared to face the troubles ahead.
    Just look at the primaries in the US. Did they waste time on Jon Hunstman? No, because the guy did not stand a chance. Who are they disecting like your proverbial frog? The front-runner and the guys who have a chance!
    As you have already mentioned many times in the past, Capriles is the front-runner by a wide margin, and the runner-up would be Perez. So, why should we waste our time on Leopoldo?
    As for the anomally you mention – people talking about MCM and not LL – is quite simple: first, Mr. Nagel mentioned her in his article as his ideological choice, although he finally pick Capriles out of practicality. Second, she’s still enjoying her 15 minutes of fame after her famous intervention in congress.
    I did bring Leopoldo once or twice in my comments, and I do hope that he’ll end up higher in the primary elections, especially because part of the thing dragging his campaign down is the unfair decision made by the supreme court of injustice.

    Honestly; I would love to see is a piece talking about why we should put our fears about HRC weak points to rest. That would be a better selling point than talking about why you fancy him…

    • Come on, sir, be the Devil’s advocate and tell us the first thing Chávez will do to attack Capriles if this gets elected.
      Cuban embassy? People wouldn’t care.
      His family background? It would be the same for the others but Medina.

      I think the weakest point may be his rhetorical skills. He debuccalizes naturally like someone from Barlovento or Calabozo or like the average non-gocho, which is good,
      but he doesn’t get into story-telling mode as he should. If you want to sell, you better tell a story (sad, but true)

    • I would love to hear your take on what you think HCR’s weak points are.

      And I would like to know – in general – why the other candidates haven’t pointed out what HCR’s weak points are. I mean, isn’t that what primaries are for? Candidates: do your job!

      • They won’t.
        We have discussed many times this is not the regular normal campaign. They have to cover up each other’s back, because at the end, in the run for the presidency, they have to count on each other to beat the beast.

      • - His oratory skills are far from perfect. So far, he has kept his mouth mostly shut, avoiding gaffes and blunders. How long can he keep doing that when he goes head to head with the blahblah commander?
        – Is he really a “presidenciable” or just the opposition leader less disliked by chavistas? When it comes to international affairs or economic policy, he’s just a blank slate…
        – Just like any other Venezuelan politician, Mr. Capriles has skeletons in his closet. Normally that old saying “entre bomberos no se pisan la manguera” is the rule of thumb among politicians, but under this circumstances, anything goes. Like I said before, Chavez cannot afford to lose Miraflores and PDVSA. If HRC stands a chance, skeletons (true or false) will emerge…
        – And it is not only about mudslinging. There is the permanent threat of a political disqualification. There are already some accusation waiting for him. Whether this accusations are true or not, it’s irrelevant.
        – What about those crime rate numbers in Miranda? Enrique Mendoza is campaigning very hard on that issue. Why?
        – Finally – not related with the campaign, but the aftermath – can we trust Borges to call the shots? It doesn’t matter how hard you try to sell him as a selfless politician, he’s shown his power hunger before. How do you think he’ll handle the whole “PJ’s candidate is the President” thing?

        • Your anti-Borges thing is idiotic, and unhinged from any reasoned calculation of his record. Siento tener que ser yo el que te lo diga, but it’s plain old bullshit.

        • And believe me, I am not playing hardball here. These are the “nicest” tough questions that I might ask. There’s no hearsay, no thorough research, no mean stuff…

        • On point 1) he has hinted at an answer: I’m a doer, not a talker. Of course he can’t beat Chavez in oratory. But he may not have to. I don’t agree that he’s kept his mouth shut, he has talked a lot, and has been mostly gaffe-free.

          On point 2) I don’t know what to say. International affairs? Economic policy? Sure, there are other people who know more about that. But Venezuelans don’t vote for that stuff.

          Point 3) I will concede. I don’t know what he has in his closet, and I fear he has more than we’re being lead to believe.

          Point 4) is a weakness for any and all of them.

          Point 5) I don’t know much about. Chavez really can’t make this election about crime now, can he? I wouldn’t qualify that as a weakness.

          Point 6) is baffling to me. Borges is not as disliked by the general public as you make him appear to be. Besides, he’s not calling the shots.

          • 1) He doesn’t have to outtalk Chavez, especially with Chavez in such a bad shape. However, he’ll need some serious inspirational stuff to win over voters, something to connect with them.
            2) You’re right, but that doesn’t change the fact that a president – or presidential candidate – should be prepared for such things. Is it too much to ask for some intellectual content now and then? Some written statement somewhere?
            3) I hope they’re prepared for that…
            4) Perez and Capriles can be a target for a disqualification. Lopez is already out. I guess Machado and Arria are less likely victims of such tactics…
            5) You’re probably right on this one…
            6) It’s not about like/dislike. It’s about Borges/PJ’s record: Bolivar in 2008, Petare in 2010, the whining about Miranda a few months ago. It would be naive to believe that PJ as ruling party will not flex its muscles, as it would be disingenuous to believe that the other MUD members will just bend over and take it… I have already mentioned the difficulties of the Punto Fijo coalition (AD/Copei/URD) and how it panned out…

            OT: I’ve just listened HRC’s interview on Cesar Miguel’s show. I guess it’s supposed to be a nice chat with Rondon softballing him,.but It was a bit ackward toward the end: Rondon trying to ask him, and Capriles interrupting him. It was a bit too much on the fiery side, but he got his message thru. I also think that he came out a bit weak when “confronted with personal questions.

            OT2: His remark about Diosdado was a nice move (“Tengan cuidado los Diputados de la AN con ese Pdte que eligieron, no sea que pierdan la cartera!”)

          • Two links, The first one is HRC’s interview on Cesar Miguel’s show:
            http://www.unionradio.net/Exitos/Actualidad/visorNota.aspx?id=8222&tpCont=1&secc=1

            The second one is related to my concerns about poin 2):
            http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/07/intellectuals-and-politics/
            Two quotes from this article:
            – “Good politicians need not be intellectuals, but they should have intellectual lives”
            – “Leaders need to be intelligent “consumers” of expert opinions”

            I DO know that it’s just wishful thinking, but come on! Gimme some content!

  6. first of all i feel LL has this would be damocles sword of a potential possible inhabilitation hanging over his head, second his campaign has been really weird, so…we shall see in the future. he comes off as a loner not a team player, and we don’t need that for the transition president. impossible job.

    i remember not too long ago, the times where MCM was berated in this blog by many for being “a merici girl”… because i’m also one too. as if that alone would disqualify her. now, by becoming a black swan, and thru her hard work suddenly she’s the alter ego of HCR for the 12/02. certainly the tables have turned in CC!

    don’t get me wrong! i do admire her courage and intelligence, i think she has a place in the transition, i think she’s great, and i think her time will come. IMO it’s sooo simple! right now the focus should be on the person that could beat chavez and our millions of $$$ he uses as his personal cash box, his powerful machinery and non scruples till the victory… always.

    the thing is without 12/02 there will be no 07/10 so shake whatever misgivings or abstentionist protest and go VOTE!

  7. by the way i have also asked myself what, or how will chávez do to destroy HCR´s possibilities… from the 13/02 he will attack him unmercifully. but HCR seems to ,me to wear the teflon suit well… at least up to now. he emerged from his imprisonment with a high popularity index, much higher than when chavez canned him. as to his low charisma and non rhetoric. i’ve had enough charisma and good rhetoric to last me at least 3 lives. i, want a doer, not a talker.

  8. Comparisons of this kind really have short legs: they don’t get too far, any coinings along the lines of The French Mussolini, The Russian Hitler, The Paraguayan Paloma San Basílio, beyond some fleeting superficial perception of similarity, all fall on their faces but, attracted by some undefinable ‘insight-affinity’, we continue to tout them. LL is his own man: the ever more widespread conviction that he’s not many other peoples’ man is plain fact, no more, no less. There is no mileage in trying to extract more by a lilting – “the Venezuelan Rick Perry” – phrase that trips easily off the tongue. If we were into songwriting, it would be a different matter.

  9. I think it was the starting point. LL got stuck in semi-obscurity by being stripped of his right to run for the mayorship of caracas. While HCR and PP were getting lots of exposure for being the governors of two most populous states in the country, with strong political machinery to support them, even basking in the spotlight the night of the national assembly election (which gave PP national stature), LL was busy making his case to the Interamerican court and building his party from scratch. Plus the uncertainty associated with his candidacy (can he actually become president? no one knows for sure) made a ot of people weary. He has had to play catch up from the get go, which I think accounts for the desperate tone to his campaign (today I’m a runner, tomorrow I’m a cartoon, the day after that I’m William Bratton).

    I’m not defending the guy. All evidence points to him being incredibly selfish, he thinks he has god by the goatee. But things would have been very different if he hadn’t been barred. Its exactly the opposite from HCR, who’s had an incredibly perfect timing all along (maybe that’s his only real strength?).

    • Here’s a conflict. When you think you have god by the goatee (and I would agree with that perception, Raf) and you appear incredibly selfish (ditto), you don’t change these fundamental stripes of personality, whether you have obstacles in front of you, or not,So for ome, things would have been no different had LL’s course been clear from the get-go. He is simply a still-green politician who wants the limelight, but hasn’t fully prepared his platform.

  10. Vuelvo en español, para ser claro. LL tiene méritos para estar en la escena política venezolana. Ha dado la pelea para mantenerse a flote y convertir la inhabilitación en un activo. Sospecho, sin embargo, que la inhabilitación tuvo un efecto importante en su momento, pues lo dejó fuera de foco, al no poder competir por la Alcaldía Mayor. También creo que tiene algunas “vulnerabilidades” que vienen de sus vínculos pasados y presentes, que no lo hacen totalmente potable de cara a una campaña contra Chávez. Todo indica que esta no es su oportunidad. Su juventud y ambición lo convierten en un presidenciable a futuro, pero no ahora.

  11. Francisco, funny that you mention Leopoldo’s change in his communication’s strategy. Yesterday I did an analysis of his tweets and hi has basically dropped his “La Mejor Venezuela” slogan for talking about safety.

  12. What would happen if Leopoldo dropped out and endorsed Pablo Perez? Would it change the dynamic of the race?

  13. What happened?
    1. Poor message. First, it wasn’t clear that when you say that someone is running for president, you are not actually “running” or “jogging” or dodging chairs ;-) Also, the fact that you repeat “security” a thousand times a minute doesn’t make you a security hawk, it makes you look like a weirdo.
    2. Poor understanding of the electorate. The bio that appeared in Noticias24 days ago (I believe it was taken from Ultimas Noticias) was really out of touch – I don’t think that getting a 3-day suspension as a provocateur in Harvard is a killer selling point in lower middle class neighborhoods (much less in Hornos de Cal or La Bombilla).
    3. Silly sentiment of a divine right to govern. Yes, Leopoldo, what the government gave you (the inhabilitación) is terribly unfair and below the belt. But I cannot help but feel that you want everyone to agree that, to right that injustice, we have to extend you a red carpet to the presidency.
    4. Poor timing. I know Maria Corina is quite jojota, but you could learn a lot: she’s definitely not going to make it this time, but she’s positioning as a formidable candidate for 2018 (or 2015, who knows). Politics is about timing, we got that, but there is a difference between “good” timing (Nixon, Obama, Yeltsin, Chavez himself) and “bad” timing.

  14. What happened? Actually, it is very simple. No tenia nada en la bola. And, he is not alone in that sense.

  15. I just don’t like the guy. Too stuffy, uptight. He really believes he is the second coming of JFK. Or at least, that is what he projects…he comes across full of himself. He’s a horrible communicator as well….se vuelve un ocho todo el tiempo.

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