Your Ad Here

The art of surviving from sex scandal: Berlusconi's dirty way

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

In Italy, though, Berlusconi's alleged romps and his heavy-handed attempts to fend off the allegations are just part of the story. In the land of Machiavelli, the one thing that gets as much attention as what's happening inside the Prime Minister's bedroom is what's happening in the political back rooms.

In Italy's Parliament, everyone is on the lookout for potential Judases within the ruling majority's ranks. And as far as the Italian media are concerned, Gianfranco Fini, president of Parliament's lower house, is filling that role nicely. The local paper in Bologna, Il Resto del Carlino, like others in Italy, offers daily updates on a brewing feud between Berlusconi and Fini, the most powerful right-wing politician from this traditionally left-leaning city. Last week, Fini demanded "more democracy" within the center-right coalition and lashed out at Berlusconi's family newspaper, Il Giornale, for accusing him of drifting leftward. "Enough already. 

It's time for a new approach," Fini told reporters in the central city of Gubbio. "I won't renounce my ideas, and I say 'No' to groupthink." And just on Monday, Sept. 14, Fini said he was considering a lawsuit against Il Giornale for an article that referred to his links to a "red light" scandal in 2000.

They may make for good reading, but Fini's veiled threats to pull his support ultimately carry little weight. Same with similar threats from the anti-immigrant Northern League party and Catholic pols who dream of creating a new centrist movement. All of the major figures on the right have too much riding on Berlusconi, who paradoxically grows in power even as the scandals seem to weaken his moral authority. In some ways, Berlusconi is the Italian political equivalent of Bank of America or AIG: he is simply too big to fail. Too many who have carved out their slice of power would risk losing it all in the monumental shakeout that would follow Berlusconi's exit from politics. And even in that unlikely scenario, the Prime Minister would have his ownership of the nation's major private television networks to fall back on. Considering all of that, Berlusconi could probably get away with just brushing off the salacious stories that follow him around as mere gossip.

Which leaves the puzzling question of why the Prime Minister continues to add fuel to the scandal's flames. Tarantini's testimony included rich details of up to 30 young women he brought to 18 different parties at Berlusconi's residences. Some newspapers compared the dates in the testimony with their own archives and found that on several occasions Berlusconi had opted out of public appearances, presumably to enjoy the company of "beautiful women," as he himself has admitted to. Still, the testimony was nothing earth-shattering and indeed backed up Berlusconi's declaration that he thought the women were simply "friends" of Tarantini's.
But when a reporter for the daily El PaĆ­s asked him about it two days later, Berlusconi went on a verbal rampage full of quotable gems. His confirmation that showgirls were frequent guests at his dinners: "Of the males here, raise your hands who wouldn't want to eat in front of [beautiful women] instead of [less attractive] people." His denial of ever knowingly being involved in prostitution: "I have never paid a lira, a euro for sex. I say this also because, for those who love to conquer, the joy and the most beautiful satisfaction are in the conquest. If you have to pay, I ask you, what joy is there?" And finally, on his overall job performance: "I think that I am far and away the best Prime Minister in [modern] Italy's 150-year history."
Otherwise Two years ago, Berlusconi was forced to publicly apologize after Lario wrote to the left-leaning La Repubblica newspaper complaining that her husband had damaged her reputation by swooning over TV star Mara Carfagna. "Forgive me, I beg you," Berlusconi wrote in an open letter to his wife. "And take this public show of my private pride giving in to your fury as an act of love." But the sincerity of his apology is another matter; the same Carfagna is now the Minister for Equal Opportunities.

This time, Berlusconi offered no apology for his plans to sex up Italy's image in the European Parliament. Instead, he told reporters on Wednesday that "La Signora" — a distant and formal designation for his wife of 23 years — had been manipulated by his enemies in the left-leaning media. Later in the day, he insisted that he would put the so-called showgirls, or young women, on his electoral list and personally accompany them on the campaign trail. Unlike other parties, Berlusconi said, his list would not include "smelly or badly dressed people." But by Thursday morning, he seemed to be backing down. Italian media were reporting that "Veronica Wins," citing sources that said Berlusconi had taken all but one of the young women off his election roster.
There's little doubt that this flare-up — like Berlusconi's various romps on the world stage — reinforces rather than changes the opinions that Italians have of him, whether they're fans or foes. Paradoxically, the potency of Lario's critiques only highlights the weakness of Italy's center-left opposition, the futility of magistrates' failed attempts to send Berlusconi to jail on corruption allegations and the desperation of graying allies waiting in vain for him to step aside. Berlusconi's grip on power, in other words, is stronger than ever


Post a Comment

  © Blogger template The Professional Template II by 2009

Back to TOP