Remain calm

July 10, 2009



Personal attacks may be driving Sarah Palin from public office, but not so the prime minister of Italy. Silvio Berlusconi told G8 leaders gathered in L’Aquila, “You all know very well they are making personal attacks on me, but don’t worry, I will be leading my country for another four years.”

Berlusconi’s perceived dalliances and affairs and his tumultuous marriage have made for lively reading, and they have also made for no end of righteous explanations from the prime minister. He and Gov. Palin have this in common: Neither has done anything wrong.

It’s unusual, to say the least, for the head of a government to address an internal matter like Berlusconi’s circus of a life before  a gathering of his peers, but this is no ordinary man. Perhaps the most interesting thing about his statement was the tone of reassurance: “Don’t worry,” he told his colleagues, “ma state tranquilli” — the expression literally means “but remain calm.” Here was Berlusconi — within himself seriously concerned about the battering his reputation has taken in capitals around the world — expressing his determination to remain in office in terms that make him sound not vulnerable, but indispensible.

On balance, even coming from Berlusconi, it was more heroic than anything we’ve seen in Wasilla.


La dolce vita.

April 30, 2009



The defection of Arlen Specter, the impending confirmation of Al Franken, and the general disarray of the Republican Party all make for absorbing political drama. But for humor, the bunch in Washington have nothing on the Italians. The latest Over There is that Veronica Lario, the wife of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, has publicly repudiated what she construes as her husband’s plan to trot out a team of female TV stars and a former beauty queen as candidates in the June elections in the European Union.

Lario, a former actress who knows about such things, said her sposo was exhibiting a “lack of discretion in his exercise of power which offends the credibility of all women.”

And she’s not being selfish about this. “I want it to be quite clear that my children and I are victims and not accomplices in this situation,” she said. “We have to endure it, and it makes us suffer.” (Note to the stimatissima signora, keep a close eye on those kiddies when they’re surfing the web. Some of those photos of you senza vestiti could be counterproductive while you’re protecting their moral character.)




Berlusconi’s version of this is that his party wants “to renew our political class with people who are cultivated and well prepared” — unlike the “malodorous and badly dressed people who represent certain parties in Parliament.” Not that it’s all about appearances – capisce? 

According to The Times of London, this isn’t the first time the two have had – come si chiama? – “political” disagreements in public. Two years ago, it seems, la Prima Donna wrote an open letter to Berlusconi demanding an apology “after he was overheard telling Mara Carfagna, a former topless model and variety show presenter, that if he were single he would marry her straight away,” the Times reported today. Berlusconi did apologize, but he then included Carfagna as a candidate in last year’s national elections, and, when the party had won,  appointed her – no doubt to demonstrate his committment to gender equality – minister for equal opportunities.