Commentary: Nicaragua's president for life?

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega must have a short memory. It was just over a year ago that Honduran President Manuel Zelaya tried to hijack his country's constitution and extend his term before zealots sent him packing.

Like Mr. Zelaya and the military that ousted him, Mr. Ortega also suffers from a weak grasp on the rule of law. Like Honduras, Nicaragua is headed toward political chaos and regional isolation. For this, Nicaragua can thank Mr. Ortega, who's so recklessly determined to rule that he resorts to stealing elections, usurping the courts and railroading critics.

After getting cronies on the Supreme Court to decide that the constitutional prohibition on reelection does not apply to him, Mr. Ortega is brashly campaigning for another term. Lawmakers accuse the former Sandinista rebel of offering bribes and key jobs to any legislator who will help him get the 60 votes he needs to lift the constitutional ban on reelection.

He used his authority to force opposition journalists off the air and oust mayors he does not like. The judges he does like got to stay on the bench even after their terms expired.

Such tactics smack of the dictator Mr. Ortega helped overthrow 31 years ago.

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