Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Poor Silvio, he (still) doesn’t get any respect!

A REAL treat and an honour for me last weekend as here in Udine we had during the literary encounter, “Vicino/Lontano”, none other than my second “God” (the first one being MIT’s Noam Chomsky, the so-called “greatest living intellectual” around): The Economist’s former editor, Bill Emmott (in the picture, the man with glasses and goatee beard). A treat because for the last 20 years or so, I’ve been subscribing to what many call “the finest magazine written in the English language”!

As question time fast approached, mine was actually the first. A few years ago, when Emmott was the magazine’s editor, The Economist blasted our Great Leader, Silvio Berlusconi, with the following title (under his picture): “Why this man is unfit to govern Italy”. I asked Emmott if he still believed that statement was true. “Yes, I STILL believe that Berlusconi is unfit to govern Italy”. At which point I clapped VERY loudly (I wasn’t the only one in the hall, thank God!).

Reading the May 2nd edition of The Economist, in the Leaders section, we come across the following title: “Regrettable Berlusconi: What a pity Italy’s prime minister does not use his political muscle to reform his country”. The article starts off with the following statements: “This newspaper has never thought much of Italy’s prime minister. In 1994, during Silvio Berlusconi’s first brief stint in the job, we called on him to resign. In 2001, before his second, we declared that his frequent brushes with the law and the conflict of interest inherent in his ownership of almost all the country’s commercial television channels made him unfit to lead Italy. A year ago, as he campaigned for the job of prime minister for a third time, we advised Italian voters to back his main opponent, Walter Veltroni. Yet Mr Berlusconi has gone from strength to strength, even as his country has not”.

Inside the magazine we see instead a cartoon of good’ol Silvio decked out in the colours of his beloved Milan soccer team (he owns it) and with one of his legs which depicts the geographical configuration of Italy, the famous “boot”, as the heel part is kicking a ball with Italy’s national flag colours. The caption underneath the sarcastic cartoon (see below for other sarcastic remarks on Berlusconi by The Economist) says: “The Berlusconisation of Italy”.

But the “let’s poke fun again at good’ol Silvio” doesn’t end there! No siree. In today’s International Herald Tribune (May 13th, 2009), we have in Celestine Bohlen’s editorial, “Boorishness works for Berlusconi”, the following comment on Silvio’s treatment and would-be divorce from his wife, Veronica Lario: “How can anyone be shocked anymore by Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s top entertainer and its longest-serving prime minister since World War II?....Mr. Berlusconi, a former cruise-ship crooner, makes a point of going public with all his sexual innuendos. It’s like the face-lift and the hair implants (my note: scroll down to see what The Economist had to say on hair plants vis-à-vis Silvio’s head!): He’s ready to do anything to prove that he is still a sexy beast…At a city hall event in Rome this week, he tried joking about the charge that he was pursuing underage girls: “I like Finland and Finnish women, as long as they are of age”!

And then many Italians STILL today get offended when they hear that foreigners believe that Italian males still go around pinching the behinds of Italian women? Can’t expect much with the likes of good’ol Silvio and his 72 year-old sexual escapades, can we (pic by M. Rimati)?

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