On Thursday morning, President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela referred to President George W. Bush as the devil.
“The devil was here yesterday. Right here,” Chavez said, according to a transcript, to the United Nations Assembly. “Right here. And it smells of sulfur today, this table that I am now standing in front of.”
In the wake of these comments, students at the Ramskeller were in no short supply of replies.
In response to Chavez’s comments during his rare trip to the United States, senior Lauren Dilts asked, “Does (Chavez) actually think (Bush) is the devil, or is he just really just saying he’s evil?”
“I’ve never smelled (Bush),” said Rob Novak, a senior environmental communications major, between pool shots.
Senior Britney Metzo had never smelled the president either.
“But I think (Chavez) is putting his feet in water where they don’t belong,” she said.
Metzo and her friend, Jina Jacquez, each sipping on a Sunshine Wheat beer, thought the comments by the president of Venezuela were in response to the United States’ world-police reputation.
“(Bush) is trying to fix everything and he doesn’t know how,” said Metzo, a health and exercise science major.
Jacquez, also studying health and exercise science, added, “He never fixes anything.”
Jacquez said the statements by Chavez are also indicative of more widespread anti-American sentiment around the world.
“I have a friend who studied abroad in Spain,” Jacquez said. “He felt he had to lie and say he was Australian when he was there because it seemed like they hated Americans so much.”
Jacquez also said that despite ambitions early in her college career, she is now hesitant to travel or study abroad.
Though admittedly not Bush’s largest fan, senior liberal arts major Lisa Burns thought Chavez took an inappropriate approach in criticizing our president.
“Another president isn’t going to gain anything by saying (Bush) is the devil and he smells bad,” she said.
“Constructive criticism would be better than just putting him down,” added senior Cheryl Hartshorn.
Occupying a table by the window, senior political science major Conor Hughes agreed with Burns. “Bush is not a saint. He’s not the smartest guy in the world.”
“Chavez is playing a power game,” Hughes said. “He’s making himself out to be a saint by denigrating Bush.”
Hughes also speculated perhaps Chavez was trying to counteract Bush’s recently rising popularity.
“Everyone hated America right when we invaded (Iraq), but Bush has been trying, and succeeding somewhat, to better public opinion (of himself),” he said. “Maybe Chavez was trying to provoke Bush into saying something.”
Others agreed Chavez’s comments might have been for shock.
“There won’t be any love lost between Chavez and Bush,” Novak said, with only the eight ball remaining on the table. “It all sounds like rhetoric to me. I understand what (Chavez) is saying, that we are unpopular, and that (the unpopularity) is deserved.”
Hughes added, “The sulfur thing was creative, though.”
Staff writer Geoff Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.