New York Daily News
September 22, 2006
I want to express my extreme displeasure with statements by the President of Venezuela attacking President Bush in such a personal and disparaging way during his remarks at the United Nations General Assembly yesterday and then again in my Harlem community today at the Mount Olivet church meeting announcing an expanded fuel-oil-for-the-poor program.
George Bush is the President of the United States and represents the entire country. Any demeaning public attack against him is - and should be viewed by Republicans and Democrats, and all Americans - as an attack on all of us.
I have defended Mr. Chavez's right to differ with our nation in his vision for the hemisphere and the world, and in the past have sympathized with some of his criticism of this administration's foreign policy. I have certainly been critical of Bush's failed invasion of Iraq. But I draw the line at allowing a foreign leader to come into my country and my community to personally insult my President.
I am particularly outraged because today he used the goodwill that his oil-for-the-poor program has generated in my community to attract an audience whom he exploited by subjecting them to more vitriolic rhetoric, in which he again insulted Bush by calling him an alcoholic and mentally disturbed.
By offering discounted fuel oil in the winter to provide warmth to people in need, Venezuela has won many friends in low-income communities of New York and other states. As long as U.S. companies buy oil from Venezuela without offering any program to reduce its price for the poor, I will be grateful for the generosity of the government of Venezuela. Hugo Chavez's generosity to the poor, however, should not be interpreted as license to personally attack and insult President Bush.
Member of Congress