President Barack Obama is accustomed to criticism from the political right, but he may be taken aback by what a noted leftist is saying about him.

Venezuela’s strong man Hugo Chavez, who is as far to the left as anyone in the world, says Obama is a “clown” president and an “embarrassment” who has turned the United States into a “disaster”.

Chávez’s startling comments came in the wake of Obama’s interview Monday with the Caracas paper El Universal, in which Obama criticized Venezuela’s ties with Iran and Cuba.

Obama told the paper, “It seems to me that the ties between Venezuela’s government and Iran and Cuba have...restricted the universal rights of the Venezuelan people, threatened basic democratic values and failed to contribute to the security in the region.”

Chávez hit back at Obama on state TV Monday. According to the UK newspaper The Guardian, he said Obama's insults were aimed at getting votes from American moderates and conservatives next year.

He said “Now you want to win votes by attacking Venezuela...You are a clown, a clown. Leave us in peace … Go after your votes by fulfilling that which you promised your people.”

“Focus on governing your country, which you’ve turned into a disaster,” Chávez said, according to The Guardian.

via Hugo Chávez says Obama is 'a clown and an embarrassment' | World news | The Guardian.

In fairness to President Obama, it should be noted that Chávez also said insulting and vitriolic things about former President George W. Bush, who he famously called "the devil" in a speech at the UN in 2006.

Chávez is also facing re-election next year, and analysts say he apparently thinks verbally slapping the American President, no matter who it is, will score electoral points at home.