Libyan dictator Mu’ammer Gaddafi is dead. Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez roams free.
Chavez recently returned to Venezuela from a cancer-fighting tour of Cuba, proclaiming that “there is not a malignant cell in this body.”
- This is almost certainly not true, but
- let’s pretend it is, and just say that Hugo reserves his malignancy for his politics.
Usually, I’d contrast the lives of these two headmen with the more peaceful careers of term-limited U.S. presidents. But if we stick to the news, to the very latest breaking stories, another contrast appears: The thousand-year-old Viking recently uncovered in Ardnamurchan, in the Scottish Highlands.
His burial was “high status,” we’re told. With him were his sword, his ax, his spear, and his shield. “He was somebody who had the capacity to do an awful lot of damage to people,” says one archaeologist.
In that way, the big-shot Viking was like Gaddafi and Chavez. But we’ll never know what this particular Viking did, in the way of harm. Of Gaddafi’s and Chavez’s crimes, we know all too well.
Gaddafi won’t likely receive as respectful a post-mortem treatment as the Viking received, at least if his “Weekend With Bernie” jaunt through Libyan streets is any indicator. It pays to die while still on top.
Which Chavez might be wise to ponder, instead of gloating about his cancer-free cellular composition.
Dictators might not be term-limited, but the ends of their careers tend to be pretty grim.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.