Tuesday, May 18, 2004

IDIOTS ABROAD. David Frum has visited Stockholm, which is a beautiful city. He thinks so too but, having a busy propagandist's brain, twists its elegance and grandeur into proof of Sweden's statist perfidy. The argument, such as it is, is hard to follow, but among the breadcrumby ideas Frum leaves for us are these:
The parkland in the central city likewise testifies to the power of monarchs: what is now a treed enclave of museums was once the headquarters of the royal Swedish navy; a few blocks away is the park that was once the garrison of the king’s household troops...

The shock of the Great Depression put an end to Sweden’s flirtation with what the Swedes call liberalism -- and they quickly reverted to older instincts: an all-powerful and highly centralized state.

And so today as in 1800, a grand aristocracy of career politicians, civil servants, and favored businesses benefit from the system: the prime minister lives in an 18th century palace compared to which 10 Downing Street looks like a cramped little rowhouse...
Perhaps Frum spent so much of his Washington tenure inside the White House that he didn't have time to run out front and similarly expostulate on the architectural subtext of the 132-room mansion surrounded by concrete battlements that serves as our own seat of executive power.

Or maybe he just has the same problem as Tacitus: it's tough to bloviate with a straight face about bad old Europe while you are enjoying its largesse, hospitality, and beauty. But (in the immortal words of Lorenzo St. DuBois) they try, oh, how they try!

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