Chavez’s public diplomacy: Playing to American Poor

First it was Citgo / Chavez offer to subsidize 25 million gallons of heating oil for 100,000 US households, now it is is Castro offering free eye care for US poor. The opportunity for both Chavez and Castro to exploit American (as in US) poor is an opportunity the Administration has not intercepted. Consider the news coverage of the Chavez / Citgo offer and consider the coverage the Castro offer will get. Pay attention to the response, both verbal and policy, by the Administration. What type of rejection will the Bush Administration give? The Chavez offer, followed by the "exposure" by Katrina, and then the Castro offer… how will the Administration counter the image that is being generated? The Chavez story was widely picked up in the US and elsewhere around the world. The Katrina story, without the benefit of a sophisticated Administration response, grew and festered (from the Bush POV) and demonstrated the Administration was out of touch (demonstrated by "Heck of a job" to Cherthoff’s unawares). The Castro story may or may not sprout legs (it just appeared today), but the image in Latin America of the US will not be improved by this mockery. Will Karen Hughes jump to the rescue? Doubtful, she’s still amazed at least one country is larger than hers.