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Silvio's legacy and American ethics
by Thanos Kalamidas
2009-07-30 09:42:48
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Imagine waking up one morning and seeing the L.A. Times and the New Yorker filled with photos of the American president walking around Camp David …naked, followed by a transcript of his talks with a call girl about her …sex life! Just by writing this, I can see half of the protestant American population fainting of shock, and the other half of the population needing oxygen. It makes me wonder which side of the Atlantic has a problem.

The last few days, Silvio Berlusconi’s lifestyle and sex adventures have found their way to the front pages of all European newspapers and magazines - and I’m talking about the ‘serious’ papers, not only the tabloids. Silvio’s instructions for a better sex life and his Putin bed have become entertainment, and of course the Italian Prime Minister remains Prime Minister and his popularity among Italians has increased instead of decreased. But please don’t stop with the Italians. The rest of the Europeans look at the Italians with some kind of envy, because they have a prime minister with faults, as he himself admitted. All this while one of the most successful American presidents once nearly lost his seat because of a cigar and Monica’s dress!

If the same thing had happened in any European country, I think people would have laughed. It would have made some headlines in the tabloids, but then it would have disappeared somewhere in the inside pages and vanished. Actually many European leaders have a past and a present that makes Clinton’s and Monica’s relationship look like puppy love. Seriously, I have no idea where to start and where to end: Jacques Chirac or Francois Mitterrand in France, Helmut Kohl in Germany, and Andreas Papandreou in Greece. Even the Finnish Prime Minister, Matti Vanhanen, got divorced while he was PM, and he had a scandalous relationship which became a book by his ex-girlfriend, with spicy details, and now he is engaged to another woman. And nothing happened to their popularity. Actually, and I think that this is the most important, their personal life never became a character issue on their campaigns, on the contrary media and opposition respected that as a very personal issue without public interest. Apparently Europeans seem to accept the fact that their leaders are just humans like them, with passions, good sides and bad sides.

So the question remains; are Americans more ethic than Europeans, or they are just …hypocrites, following the old saying, they don’t care what’s going on as long nobody finds out? Because excuse me, but I don’t believe that there are any perfect human beings. I think that Silvio is a sad, grotesque figure, a man who doesn’t want to accept that he’s getting old and instead of taking care of his legacy, he has become a pathetic clown. But this just makes me feel sorry for him. Actually, my next door neighbour is exactly the same, the only difference being that he hasn’t got Silvio’s billions, which makes him even more pathetic.

What really makes me angry with the Italian PM is that this man has ridiculed one of the oldest European democracies. Italy is one of the main decision maker countries in Europe, and he’s ridiculed it through his policies, scandalous economic fabrications and law manipulations, his prejudice approach to serious issues and his often fascist attitude. I could say that I felt equally sorry for Francois Mitterrand for example, but Mitterrand’s contribution to modern French democracy and Europe is invaluable. On the same time in America, people still forget the economic change that Clinton brought about; the establishment of a superpower through diplomacy, and the foundation of a health system that Obama now will be able to establish. Instead, what they remember is…Monica Lewinsky!

What I think makes everything even funnier, is how important religion is for the American voters. I think it is funny because for example Silvio Berlusconi is a devoted and open Catholic, who often has shown his faith publicly. Ok there are limits and Silvio has often reached the line, especially when he was photographed with an eighteen-year-old, and I hope he will never cross those limits. But returning to the main question, if there is an ethic problem on this side of the Atlantic, I think that it has to do with tolerance and the general attitude in Europe. The prime minister is elected to serve the people, and he or she is one among equals, with their own passions and faults. Apparently in Europe the real power is in the parliament. It has the power to terminate the PM’s term and arrange a re-election. This way it’s up to the people’s judgment, which has already happened in Italy with Silvio. However, Silvio’s legacy will definitely be special, and it will be interesting to see what history books write about him in fifty years.
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Emanuel Paparella2009-07-30 12:14:18
I happen to be in Italy at the moment and it appears from what I read and see with my own eyes that at this point Berlusconi's support among Catholics is fast eroding and that is ominous for his chances of re-election. Berluconi had declared himself repentant and will soon go to visit the sanctuary of Padre Pio at Monterotondo where a miracle will happen and he will return a new man. Most people are not convinced though. It sounds too much like a Boccaccio story. They are not convinced, not because of what he did or did not do but because, pari passu with Bill Clinton, it appears that the prostitute has said the truth and the premier has lied. I suspect that in fifty years the verdict of history will be a Vichian one: when the language is degraded and shame becomes virtue, a civilization at the end "impazzisce," which is to say, it goes crazy. I am afraid though that such a verdict will not apply to Italy only, but to the whole of Western Civilization. Indeed, the historical cycles repeat themselves. More on this subject upon my return to a more normal atmosphere from Berlusconiland.

Eva2009-07-30 13:39:06
"Berluconi had declared himself repentant and will soon go to visit the sanctuary of Padre Pio at Monterotondo where a miracle will happen and he will return a new man."

This made me laugh out loud, hahahaha, thanks for sharing this, Paparella! :-)))

Emanuel Paparella2009-07-30 16:51:45
You are welcome, but that is only half of the Boccaccio- like story. Were one to finish it, one would have Berlusconi, not unlike the blind man who went to Monterotondo to be healed by Padre Pio after he collected the insurance, return home and low and behold find himself truly blind. not physically but morally which would be a much worst condition to find oneself in; the condition of the mortally sick who does not even known that he is sick. Who said that God and saints don't have a sense of humor? It is enough to look around...

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