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Biden in Brussels: Let the Man Finish His Belgian Waffle!

Brussels as the capital of the free world? That’s quite an assertion, but Joe Biden is just the American to back up such a claim.

by
James Lileks

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May 26, 2010 - 12:06 am
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Vice President Joe Biden, speaking in Brussels, tried to be a gracious guest and ended up reminding us how some see America: it’s exceptional only in that it thinks it’s exceptionally exceptional. He said:

As you probably know, some American politicians and American journalists refer to Washington, D.C., as the “capital of the free world.”  But it seems to me that this great city, which boasts 1,000 years of history and which serves as the capital of Belgium, the home of the European Union, and the headquarters for NATO, this city has its own legitimate claim to that title.

You’re surprised he didn’t refer to Brussels in the plural, but obviously someone vetted the remarks.

Capital of the free world? That’s quite an assertion, but Joe backs it up.  A thousand years of history, for example. A fine criteria. Often one finds one’s self at the border of a foreign county, wondering: how free is this place, anyway? The border guard explains: Mongolia is 4,000 years old. Well then! Must be four times more free than Brussels by the Biden Metric. It serves as the capital of Belgium. That’s something Washington can’t claim. Oh, they’d like to; every few blocks there’s a Belgian restaurant — Le Sprouterie, Henk’s Euro-Mush Shoppe — and you’ll find drugstores with signs that say BELGIAN SPOKEN HERE or those happy, unmistakably Belgian flags fluttering outside, as if a bit of that glamorous Brussels elan would rub off. But no one’s fooled. The HQ of NATO.

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