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Independence, spoiled

September 18, 2006

MEXICO CELEBRATED ITS independence holiday over the weekend, an independence from Spain that got off to a rocky start when one of the heroes of the struggle, Agustin Iturbide, decided to proclaim himself Mexican emperor in 1822. Iturbide's unfortunate stunt came to mind over the weekend with

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's grotesque move to proclaim himself president of Mexico despite losing at the polls on July 2.

Lopez Obrador, the leftist former mayor of Mexico City, lost by half a percentage point to conservative Felipe Calderon in a three-way race. A panel of election judges certified those results and the integrity of the vote on Sept. 5, and Calderon is slated to take office on Dec. 1.

Lopez Obrador insists that the election was fraudulent despite evidence to the contrary. His protests have paralyzed the capital and culminated on Saturday with a "national democratic convention" rally that proclaimed Lopez Obrador president. Lopez Obrador has promised to convene a parallel cabinet and continue whining for years to come.

The good news is that Lopez Obrador's movement may be losing some steam. Polls show his support waning, and other influential leftist political leaders and intellectuals are distancing themselves from what has become a sore loser's vanity project rather than a serious ideological crusade.

One such intellectual is Cuahtemoc Cardenas, the founder of Lopez Obrador's party who was himself a candidate for president in 1988, when elections were decidedly not so clean in Mexico. He issued a public letter last week that speaks volumes about the growing embarrassment many on the left feel over Lopez Obrador's demagoguery.

After a long discussion of why he was never an enthusiastic backer of Lopez Obrador, Cardenas wrote that he is "profoundly preoccupied" by the intolerance and anti-democratic dogmatism of Lopez Obrador's team.

Cardenas is a leading moral authority. One can only hope that his criticism will encourage many others in Mexico to stand up to the bully who lost on July 2 and call for an end to the madness.

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