Italian President Silvio Berlusconi has secured a reputation as the clown of Europe and, like most circus clowns, he is getting really scary. After the media reported on his latest gaffes, Berlusconi is threatening “hard measures” against the media, saying “The Italian press, with their stories of my gaffes, harm the reputation of Italy.” The idea that it is the press rather than the president at fault is not new. However, for the leader of a free nation to threaten such measures is more than a laughable gaffe.
Berlusconi is known for some pretty bizarre comments like his promise “of absolute sexual abstinence” to focus on work.
On the recent G20 meeting, he attracted the ire of the Queen in London by screaming at the arrival of President Barack Obama and then keeping German Chancellor Angela Merkel waiting and turning his back on her to talk on a cellphone.
Berlusconi insists that he had been talking to his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in an attempt to convince him to drop Ankara’s objections to Danish leader Anders Fogh Rasmussen being named Nato secretary general.
He has cut off the media: “I will no longer talk to you. I am working for Italy while you work against it. I will no longer give news conferences. Enough with this. Go to the devil! This is slander towards me and disinformation to newspaper readers. . . . I don’t want to say that I’m calling for direct and tough action towards certain newspapers and members of the press. But frankly I’m tempted. One shouldn’t behave like this.”
That is remarkably measured in light of his past messianic statements like “I am the Jesus Christ of politics. I am a patient victim, I put up with everyone, I sacrifice myself for everyone.”
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