Images of the U.S. media's longtime foe, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, with Obama at last weekend's Summit of the Americas in Trinidad prompted some corporate reporters to take the unusual step of questioning the political motivations behind an official photo-op. On ABC's World News, Jake Tapper referred to Chavez's gift of The Open Veins of Latin America to Obama as a "stunt" (video available here).
George Stephanopoulos questioned whether Chavez was not just posing with Obama in order to take advantage of Obama's popularity. "You have to wonder who would win a popular vote between Obama and Chavez in Venezuela these days," Stephanopoulos stated in an early Sunday morning ABC News broadcast.
Yet, as even Miami Herald columnist Andres Oppenheimer–a Chavez critic–acknowledges in his latest column, "there are no recent polls on Obama's popularity in Venezuela." So just where does Stephanopoulos get the idea that Obama polls so favorably in Venezuela? Why, likely from Obama's own adviser on Latin America!
In an interview with Tapper broadcast on ABC, Jeffrey Davidow–a senior adviser to Obama on Latin American affairs and director of the Summit of the Americas, who is also president of the Institute of the Americas think tank, stated that Chavez
rushed photos of his handshake with president Obama on to his government's website, along with his express desire to be friends. That was for a reason.
There's a sizable population in Venezueala, probably the very, very vast majority of Venezuela Venezuelans, who have a more favorable attitude to president Obama than to him.
Tapper: You're saying president Obama is more popular in Venezuela than Chavez is?
What better authority on what "probably the very, very vast majority of Venezuela Venezuelans" want than a White House senior advisor?