Somewhere, Mark Twain — who coined the classic phrase appearing above, upon learning that his death had been mistakenly reported — must be smiling.
Today Hugo Chavez, the thuggish Venezuelan dictator who is undergoing ongoing treatment for cancer, had to call a state-run TV station to try to dispel rumors that he was already dead. Chavez said that he is in Cuba getting radiation treatment for a pelvic tumor and contended that the rumors were part of a psychological war against him.
I’m sure it’s not easy being a loud-mouthed dictator under any circumstances, and it’s probably even harder to be a successful autocrat when you have to interrupt the normal propaganda programming on national TV to deny rumors of your own death. It’s undoubtedly tough to rule by bullying and intimidation when those you are trying to bully and intimidate think you might already be toes up.