Yeah, sure it’s a close race

It appears that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez might not have everything quite as sewn up as he’d like:

    Chavez threatens to cut U.S. oil supply over vote
    By Brian Ellsworth

    CARACAS – (Reuters) –Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez threatened on Friday to halt the OPEC nation’s oil sales to the United States, seeking to fire up his leftist supporters for a weekend referendum on expanding his powers.

    The former soldier faces a tight vote on Sunday over proposed constitutional reforms that would allow him to stay in office for decades if he keeps winning elections.

    Chavez has tried to rally his followers in the last days of the campaign with fiery rhetoric against opponents at home and abroad, and he warned at a huge rally on Friday that he would retaliate if the U.S. government interferes in the referendum.

    “There will not be a single drop of oil for the United States,” Chavez bellowed to hundreds of thousands of cheering supporters in downtown Caracas. “And if they want to come and take our oil they will face 100 years of war in Venezuela.”

    Most polls show a statistical tie for the “Yes” and “No” votes in Sunday’s referendum.

    Chavez’s heavy spending on social programs has made him popular with Venezuela’s poor majority but critics accuse him of seeking dictatorial powers and many moderate supporters are concerned that the reforms would give him too much power.

    He portrays the vote as a plebiscite on his rule. “Whoever votes ‘Yes’ is voting for Chavez, and whoever votes ‘No’ is voting for George W. Bush, president of the United States,” he said.

One assumes that if Señor Chavez loses the referendum, it means, ipso facto, that the United States has interfered — at least in his fevered imagination, and the imagination of some of our friends on the left.

But I seriously doubt that he’ll lose, and suspect that he’ll win by a larger margin than the opinion polls suggest — because he’ll make certain that he’ll win. Perhaps if we sent Jimmy Carter to certify the fairness of the election . . . .