Wednesday, June 22, 2005

High culture and low politics

Now that a U.S. Senator has used the Nazi analogy to U.S. policy, intemperance in high places has crossed the Atlantic Ocean.

Here in Europe, the commentary that I can fathom is as shrill as Sen Durban's. Paul Johnson's piece in the WSJ made the point that the "no" vote on the EU constitution suggested an unfocused discontent. Few are drawing the lessons drawn in the U.S. that the "social market" is a disastrous construction. Rather, a not-so-vague anti-Americanism-anti-Semitism emerges.

My hotel manager in Paris kindly (but unsolicitedly) instructed me that "Bush is the worst dictator of the century". He did not make clear whether he meant 20th or 21st. I avoided the impulse to tell him that the competition for 20th century's was stiff and includes an almost all-Europe slate (consider Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, Franco, Petain, Mussolini, Milosovic, etc.).

What are you going to do when high levels of education and high culture do not pay off?