Trump and Sweden

Paleo Retiree writes:

I was taken completely aback by the reaction of much of the mainstream press, as well as of many of my lib/left/Dem friends, to Trump’s recent claim about Sweden and crime. They didn’t just question him or fact-check him. They laughed at him. He wasn’t fumbling and/or exaggerating. No, he was completely wrong. Sweden’s PM himself indulged in some yuks at Trump’s expense. Har har har.

The notion of the Scandinavian paradise seems to die hard in certain crowds. OK, there has been some awkwardness in the Netherlands, and Norway may be getting comfortable with the notion of limits. But in Sweden, everything continues to work out brilliantly. Despite the lies and hysteria of those who are either Nazis or who look occasionally at nonstandard news outlets — same people, really — the international liberal project remains in fine shape. And, of course, it’s in fine hands. If only those wicked ethnonationalists wouldn’t keep throwing dirt in the gears …

Could my impression that the immigration-and-refugee issue has indeed become a fraught one in Sweden really have been so mistaken? Perhaps I’ve been hanging out ‘way too much in the darker, crime-think corners of the web. Time to fact-check myself. So I did some more websurfing and turned up a few links others may find interesting.

  • An interesting article/posting that was up on the Huffington Post for a few hours. For the life of me I can’t imagine why the editors deep-sixed it. But, thanks to the magic of the internet, a copy of it survives.
  • I also enjoyed a Reddit AMA with a young guy of Somalian background who has grown up in Sweden. When asked his opinion of the current immigration/refugee situation there, he responds:

I’m thankful Sweden took in my parents as refugees … But the Swedish immigration policies have been way too irresponsible and unsustainable in my opinion (despite its good intentions), and Sweden is now in way over its head. Now I wanna stress that refugees should have the right for asylum, but Sweden can’t take in them all! As much as ‘humanitarian politics’ sound nice it’s not sustainable for such a small country to take in as many has they have, not economically or socially!

It really is a difficult situation with all the refugees, but there are also a bunch of people who have gotten to Sweden (and Europe overall), that don’t fulfil the conditions for asylum; who wouldn’t have gotten here if it wasn’t for (what was) the open borders. I think regulated borders are important both for the countries safety and to not waste the time and money of migrants who aren’t eligible to stay anyway! I also think more effort should be taken to integrate the ones that are already here!

Excuse a quick detour: I find it bewildering how hard the MSM (and my lib/left/Dem friends, who without exception take their cues from the center-left MSM) find it to wrap their minds around Trump. Is he really so hard to understand as a character type?

As far as I can tell, the source of their difficulty is his personal style. The MSM and many of my friends don’t just seem indignant that Trump isn’t a silver-voiced, verbally-slick law school valedictorian — evidently a type they’re comfortable with. They take his style as proof that he’s incompetent, terminally narcissistic and/or crazy.

Now it seems incontrovertible to me that, whatever Trump’s faults, he’s a shrewd guy who’s capable of being effective on a large scale. In other words: I take it as a given that he isn’t incompetent, he isn’t crazy and, though he may well be narcissistic, so is just about every other big-league public figure. Given these assumptions, I find myself wondering: Why is Trump’s style so hard for so many lib/left/Dem people to make sense of?

OK, he blusters. OK, he feints left then goes right. OK, he often says outrageous, hyperbolic things. Even so, it doesn’t seem to me to be terribly hard to square such behavior with the notion that he’s effective and sane, at least so long as we’re allowed to bring a little real-life experience into play. For one thing, as Scott Adams has repeatedly argued, Trump is a “persuader.” (Trump hasn’t exactly kept his deal-making nature a secret.) He’s always manipulating, he’s always playing negotiation games.

For another, it’s completely missing the point to judge Trump by the standards of an Oxbridge debating society. Instead, he’s a man-of-action businessguy. I’ve met plenty of these, and among them the combination of effective, driven and smart AND verbally not-very-dazzling isn’t an unusual one.

I’ll add one notion of my own to the above list. To me, Trump can be usefully pictured as an improv-acting genius. He wings it, he works instinctively, he employs shock and surprise, he makes it up as he goes along … yet he always manages to forge forward. If you’re locked into an idea of performing as a polite, by-the-books thing, improv-style acting can look chaotic, even berserk. But if you’ve had experience with the form you can easily recognize it as its own discipline and art.

My conclusion: Hey, lib/left/Dem colleagues and friends, Trump is a man-of-action businessguy/negotiator with the soul and instincts of a Second City performer.

Just for the record, let me point out that in this posting I’ve said precisely zilch about whether or not I approve of Trump’s actions and policies. I’ve only argued that he’s sane and effective, and that his behavior can be understood without recourse to “He’s crazy.” Glad to agree that there are plenty of reasons to object to Trump, and plenty of reasons to put him down. I’m just arguing that “he’s crazy” is a lousy and misleading argument.

But back to the announced theme of this posting. As the days passed by it was interesting to see that the MSM was beginning to moderate their original hooting and jeering about Trump and Sweden.

  • The New York Times: “Recently Swedes also find themselves questioning the wisdom of their generosity to outsiders in need, and its potential limits, leading to the country’s harshest debate ever over immigration.”
  • Stockholm-based economist Tino Sanandaji: “The situation is both less bad than America’s Fox News addicts want it to be and considerably more dire than the MSM and the Swedish ruling class would have us believe. (Not just that: TPTB in Sweden have mechanisms in place to prevent us from knowing.)”
  • Even Carl Bildt, Sweden’s amazingly smug PM, admits that the liberal order generally is in crisis.

(Perhaps these admissions had something to do with that little riot that broke out in a Stockholm suburb the day after Trump’s remarks.) But will my friends-who-take-their-cues-from-the-soft-left-MSM notice these updates, let alone be open to these facts? My best guess: they’ve already moved on to other excuses to proclaim Trump crazy.

All of which reminds me of a book I just finished, Michel Houellebecq’s “Submission.” More on that very amusing, and very alarming, novel soon.

About Paleo Retiree

Onetime media flunky and movie buff and very glad to have left that mess behind. Formerly Michael Blowhard of the cultureblog Now a rootless parasite and bon vivant on a quest to find the perfectly-crafted artisanal cocktail.
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4 Responses to Trump and Sweden

  1. Will S. says:

    Interesting about the HuffPo piece; too bad the editors just couldn’t let anything that contradicts the narrative remain. As if it could be disappeared down the Memory Hole, in this time of instant archiving… Idiots.


  2. Matra says:

    Well said. A correction though: Carl Bildt is not the PM of Sweden. He was PM back in the 90s and until recently was their foreign minister but he doesn’t have a role in the present Swedish government. He does, however, seem to be a full time participant in international conferences involving government/corporate leaders and NGOs, and so when anything happens in Sweden he is always readily available as the Anglo media’s point man.


  3. Thrust in the Wind says:

    One of the nicest ideas, I have read from paleoretiree is that many people (including, and maybe especially, those in power) should be thought of like children — certain to get into serious trouble if they aren’t handed something salutary to occupy themselves with. I don’t think that browbeating from the right, even of the excellently witty stripe, is engaging the left’s attention much or moving them from the chaos side of things. They have been having so much fun covering their ears and saying “I am not listening (and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it)” for so long who can blame them that they are still screaming “party’s not over yet, suckas.” However, I expect many in my more liberal friend-circle to look to *reclaim* folksy small-town humanist interests they’ve had all along, of course. Fewer trips to Vegas palatial hotels, more banjo lessons from wiser-than-they-look teachers and the like. Less asserting that science says exactly what you want it to, more smoking cigars. And, hopefully, less occupy the streets, more days in the parks (and new park construction).


  4. Fenster says:

    As I see it what Trump’s liberal detractors find the most distressing is not his personal or communications style. That surely grates but I don’t think the left would be taking such outsized risks with their future if it were just a matter of style. The only thing it can be is a kind of religious thing. Not doctrinal in the conventional theological sense but deeply nonetheless related deeply to comprehensive world views. The world was heading in a particular direction–it had to be headed in that direction, was destined to move in that direction, was morally right that it move in that direction–and Trump just turned over the apple cart. Sorry, no, you can’t have that. People who have been used to too much winning don’t like losing.


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