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What's Berlusconi's Deal?

Italian Prime Minister’s recent gaffes include comparing the earthquake fallout to a camping trip; annoying the Queen of England by loudly soliciting President Obama’s attention; calling Obama “suntanned”; and saying Italy cannot eradicate rape because its women are too beautiful. What’s his deal? The New Republic writes that “[Berlusconi’s] inappropriate remarks are the behavior of a man so powerful in his own country, whose private wealth and public power are so fused, that he makes no distinction between private and public behavior.” His near total control of the Italian press has accustomed him so much to uncritical praise and center stage that he doesn’t quite know how to behave at international gatherings, where he’s not a major player and the media is more critical. When Berlusconi explained why he would not attend Obama’s inauguration, he revealingly said "I am not an extra in a movie cast; I'm a lead actor."

April 9, 2009 7:53 AM