I'll let you read the editorial on their site, but here is my response:
There is an easy solution to the Venezuelan problem - start producing more of our own oil, and reducing our demand on Venezuelan oil. This is what should have been started back when Chavez came to power many years ago, or at least when he nationalized the oil industry. Take away his petrodollars, and he's nothing. He thumbs his nose at the US, and we pay him anyway. It's insanity.
Yes, the US needs to counter-act Chavez, but we need to do it by bolstering our allies in the region, and adding more. We need more allies like President Uribe of Colombia who aren't afraid to stand up to Chavez.
I don't think that the US government takes Chavez too seriously (until maybe now with Russian bombers landing on Venezuelan soil), because his threats have been hollow. He choses his words vey carefully - 'if' the US invades there will be no oil. Yeah, doesn't take a genious to figure that if you are invaded by a country to which you supply oil, you aren't going to continue to do business with them or they with you. But at the same time, Chavez needs our petrodollars as much as we need his oil so his oil isn't going anywhere for the time being.
You're observation about 'leveling the playing field in the upcoming elections' is a bit naive. That Chavez recognized the referendum last December was a miracle. Reports are that regional elections will gain more opposition governors. Chavez has already moved to divide the country up into sectors for 'defense' purposes with generals over each sector, with the thought that these generals will effectively render the governors useless. You presuppose that Chavez is going to let the elections go on in a democratic fashion - you are sadly mistaken. It wouldn't even surprise me if he were to rig the elections in his favor or through them out altogether.