Saturday, June 27, 2009

Lo Diro Come

The UK Telegraph rhetorically asks 'How Does He Do It'?:

To most of us it seems extraordinary that Silvio Berlusconi is still prime minister of Italy. There can't be many politicians who could survive the sort of scandals he's been through: accusations of perjury, perverting the course of justice, proximity to the Mafia, accusations of membership of a sinister masonic lodge, of tax evasion and of corrupting public officials. And now, on top of all that, it has been discovered that he's been enjoying Dionysian parties with dozens of young girls at both of his Sardinian and Roman villas.

This time he doesn't even deny the central allegations. Not surprisingly, perhaps, since there's overwhelming evidence of what went on: there are photographs of topless girls in G-strings lounging around his villa, there are wiretaps of businessmen lining up escort girls for Silvio's parties. One escort has revealed she was given only half her "appearance fee" because she didn't stay the night (she didn't make that mistake again). The question isn't did he or didn't he, but simply: how on earth does he get away with it? How is it that a country we think of as a close neighbour, which we all think we know so well, has such a different morality to ours?

There's also the fact that some Italians have a slightly different attitude towards fidelity. It may be because Catholicism is so voluptuous and forgiving compared with our austere puritanism; or else because the women, and men, seem so irresistibly attractive; or maybe it's because so many television shows have men of retirement age surrounded by showgirls in bikinis ... Whatever the reason, there's little outrage about an old, married man flirting with teenage wenches.

If anything there's envy of, and admiration for, his harem.

It's telling that Berlusconi's line of defence last week wasn't Bill Clinton's outright denial: "I did not have sex with that woman." Instead, using a defence that would only work in a country where the male conqueror is more admired than the faithful husband, he simply said he hadn't paid for the sex because that would detract from the thrill of the conquest.
If anything, Berlusconi's libidinous exploits appear to enable the electorate to identify with him more closely. They make him appear a man of the people. Before Berlusconi's entry into Italian politics, the country's parliament was largely dominated by elderly grey men who were measured and refined, but also distant, aloof and superior. Berlusconi, by contrast, has always presented himself as a uomo qualunque, an Ordinary Joe.

People seem to admire him for his refusal to watch his step, for the fact that he can never be anything other than a bull in a china shop. We foreigners find his show-boating and back-slapping and gestures and jokes rather cringey, but in Italy they all make him seem somehow normal, part not of a snooty elite but of the people, part of the sacred popolo. He is, says the propaganda, a man just like you, a simple man who loves money and sex.

And it's cunning, of course, for which Berlusconi is truly admired. Being furbo – cunning or sly – isn't a slur in Italy; it's a sign that you can outsmart the rest, that you're clever enough to get away with it. Every time Berlusconi survives a scandal, his stock rises yet higher because people are in awe of how he does it. He's like Houdini, calmly shrugging off the shackles that magistrates and journalists and opposition politicians keep trying to put him in. (Read entire article)
Wouldn't you just love to know what Berlusconi and Carla Bruni's husband are talking about??? I have a pretty good idea!

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