Tuesday, May 23, 2006

I hear he said it with a straight face, too

Our President, lecturing our neighbors to the south about the importance of democracy, human rights, poverty, health care, and transparent government, in response to a question about what his "strategy" is in confronting Venezuela, Bolivia and "the coalition of Hugo Chavez":

I am going to continue to remind our hemisphere that respect for property rights and human rights is essential for all countries in order for there to be prosperity and peace. I'm going to remind our allies and friends in the neighborhood that the United States of America stands for justice; that when we see poverty, we care about it and we do something about it; that we care for good -- we stand for good health care.

I'm going to remind our people that meddling in other elections is -- to achieve a short-term objective is not in the interests of the neighborhood. I will continue to remind people that trade is the best way to help people be lifted from poverty; that we can spend money -- and we do in the neighborhood -- but the best way for there to be growth is to encourage commerce and trade and prosperity through the marketplace.

I want to remind people that the United States stands against corruption at all levels of government, that the United States is transparent. The United States expects the same from other countries in the neighborhood, and we'll work toward them.

We'll continue to work with forces like the Central -- countries like the Central American countries, where we passed a free trade agreement called CAFTA, to remind the people in that area that relations with the United States will be beneficial to their people. There's a lot of things we're doing.

Thank you very much. I'm concerned -- let me just put it bluntly -- I'm concerned about the erosion of democracy in the countries you mentioned.

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