A Clash of Capitols

by Jay Nordlinger

Well, this is a heck of a coincidence. Last week, I had a series about North Dakota, in which I mentioned its capitol building — not the purtiest thing (in my opinion). In the last few days, I have been to Minneapolis-St. Paul, and toured the capitol while there. I have a note on this in today’s Impromptus: “. . . one of the most beautiful state capitols I have seen. Majestic, elegant, tasteful, democratic — what an American capitol should be.”

Okay, the coincidence: Here’s a news report headed “North Dakota bridles at neighbor’s Capitol insult.” It begins, “North Dakota’s governor has bridled at a Minnesota lawmaker’s scathing assessment of the state’s austere, Depression-era Capitol, saying the critic knows little about architecture.”

What the Minnesotan said was, “It’s like State Farm Insurance called, they want their office building back.” Frankly, I think this fellow should write for The New Criterion. He knows what he’s talking about, and he expresses himself with flair.

Anyway . . . North Dakota has an excellent government and an oil boom. Minnesota has Governor Mark Dayton, Senator Al Franken, Congressman Keith Ellison, Garrison Keillor . . . Minnesotans seeking relief can absorb their inspired and inspiring capitol.

A few days ago, I got a letter from a reader who remembered how his grandfather praised the North Dakota capitol: The building wasted very little space. That is, almost all of it could be occupied by human beings, which is not the case with a dome, for example.

Kind of touching.

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