Today the NYTimes Editorial Board publishes an editorial urging Venzuelan voters to reject Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s constitutional proposals:
Since he took office eight years ago, Venezuela’s president, Hugo Chávez, has grabbed more and more power, exploiting his nation’s oil wealth to buy up popular support. Now there are hopeful signs that his plan to become president for life may be too blatant for the electorate to swallow.
Tomorrow, Venezuelans are scheduled to vote on a package of constitutional reforms proposed by Mr. Chávez that would grant the president control over nearly every major political institution, as well as the option to stand for re-election as many times as he wants. A few months ago, it looked like Mr. Chávez would easily get his way. A survey last week by an independent pollster found that 49 percent of Venezuelans opposed the changes and only 39 percent supported it. We hope those numbers hold.
. . . Now there are signs that more Venezuelans have decided to take a stand and vote no. This referendum is too important to miss. Opponents are calling for a massive “no” vote. For the sake of Venezuela’s battered democracy, voters should heed the call.
I agree with this editorial. But the fact that it is run in what I believe is our most important Media institution does not sit well with me. I am not sure that my feeling is right. In fact, I know that if the editorial merely described Chavez’s actions without urging a specific vote on the referenum, I would not feel this way. It is the urging of citizens of another country how to vote that bothers me.
Is that a meaningful distinction? I honestly do not know. My reaction is at the gut level. What do you folks think?