Another Way
July 2, 2003 8:19 AM   Subscribe

Berlusconi calls Godwin. Berlusconi lost his cool in response to criticism of an alleged conflict of interest between his political office and his extensive Italian media interests by German Socialist MEP Martin Schulz. "Mr. Schulz, I know there is in Italy a man producing a film on the Nazi concentration camps. I would like to suggest you for the role of leader. You'd be perfect,'' Berlusconi exclaimed to jeers in the chamber.
posted by four panels (28 comments total)
Nothing like 'Godwining' a German. A foolish outburst? Crazy like a fox?
posted by troutfishing at 8:23 AM on July 2, 2003

A little more on Berlusconi.
posted by four panels at 8:24 AM on July 2, 2003

Or would that be 'Godwinning'?
posted by troutfishing at 8:24 AM on July 2, 2003

( from four panels' BBC link above) "....Above all, no garlic. Like some Nosferatu, Berlusconi lives in fear of it, allegedly associating it with "boredom and death". He is said to be able to detect it from great distances, causing complications at summit dinners......supplicants make the pilgrimage to Arcore, his mansion outside Milan, as a last resort with a problem, a sick child. He gives them money, his telephone number, promises to change their life and tells them, "This is your lucky day." Wedding couples ask to touch him for luck......

The Berlusconi legend is projected in a 128-page booklet, An Italian Story, that he first put out in 1994, then mailed, updated, to 12 million people in Italy at the last election. It's a fable of self-improvement but also of Biblical destiny - he has claimed to be "the Lord's anointed"

........."No government has been as precise or as punctual in keeping to the pledges made to the voters," he claimed in his magazine Panorama. In fact, almost nothing he promised - lower taxes, pension reform, more jobs, public works - has even been started on. Instead, he faces major problems, including bloated state pension costs, a rising public deficit, rising inflation and difficulties over immigration, healthcare and labour reform. Meanwhile, he has abolished inheritance tax, offered big tax breaks to business and given an amnesty for illegal money held abroad since the 1970s - estimated at $500bn......In his attack on the judiciary, Berlusconi has passed laws that serve his own interests, including one that decriminalised false accounting - which took care of three major charges against him....already there are cases of the judiciary applying self-censorship in the face of the onslaught. An astonishing example came in the Milan Court of Appeals in July 2001, when it decided not to send the prime minister to trial for bribing a judge in 1994, on the grounds that his "status" had changed - he was now the prime minister."

Clearly, he is the AntiChrist.

Meanwhile, you've got to admire the sick chutzpah of the tactic of outracing the prosecution of one's crimes by becoming a politician powerfull enough to annul the laws under which one was originally charged.

The real question here is: is the unshakeable conviction that one is "special" and "touched by God" actually clear evidence of a sociopathic personality disorder?

Humans have had, since time immemorial, a tendency - instinctual, I think - to conflate power with moral worth. Powerfull becomes "good". Not.
posted by troutfishing at 8:47 AM on July 2, 2003

troutfishing, how can Berlusconi be the anti-christ when he owns the champion of European football?
posted by billsaysthis at 9:20 AM on July 2, 2003

trout, billysaysthis,

his team went away with the Campions League by winning just one of the last seven games, by scoring the game-winning goal in overtime.
they scored just one goal in the last three games.
they missed not one but _two_ penalty shots in the final's penalty shoot-out, and managed to get the cup anyway, bacause Juventus players (usually famous for their stamina and focus) missed, appallingly, three penalty kicks
they played Internazionale when Christian Vieri was out for injury and Juventus when Pavel Nedved was out for the 3-yellow-card rule.
their replacement goalkeeper made two impossible saves in the final eight minutes of the semi-final game against Internazionale

also, the logo of Milan AC Berlusconi's soccer team is, yes, the Devil
posted by matteo at 10:13 AM on July 2, 2003

The only country in Europe where this man can still stay in power is Italy.

Do you remember a couple of years back when Austria was isolated diplomatically, due to Joerg Haider’s anti-foreigner stance and remarks about the Nazi regime?

That incident turned out to be an embarrasment ... Is there anything other european countries could do? This man isn't fit to lead our continent.
posted by hoskala at 10:39 AM on July 2, 2003

Matteo, I'm curious as to the general sentiment towards Berlusconi in Milano right now, as I've noticed a bit more anti-Berlusconi muttering here in Rome since the invasion of Iraq. Any difference up there?

And cripes, you just had to remind me of those 3 botched penalty kicks. Not a Milan fan, eh Matteo? ;-)
posted by romakimmy at 10:52 AM on July 2, 2003

can we kick italy out of the eu?
posted by andrew cooke at 10:58 AM on July 2, 2003

I say Germany should invade Italy over the slight. Call it a policy of pre-emption, if you like.
posted by moonbiter at 11:48 AM on July 2, 2003

Berlusconi makes Nixon look like Gandhi. Pity that Italy has no Hunter S. Thompson.
posted by riviera at 11:55 AM on July 2, 2003

I guess ton of italians would like to join me in apologizing for the idiotic behavior of our Prime Bufoon..oh I meant minister, oh well bufoons, ministers many times they're the same kind of massmedia entertainers.

I apologize only because many italians voted that ... I lack offensive enough words, but I guess many other EU countries have more or less hidden problems with their politicians so at least we're not alone.
posted by elpapacito at 1:30 PM on July 2, 2003

oh I meant minister, oh well bufoons, ministers many times they're the same kind of massmedia entertainers.

in that case, can't you guys get Roberto Begnini to run or something?
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 1:39 PM on July 2, 2003

Pink: nah Roberto is an funny guy :) , but ironically too serious to run for any political position (at least I hope so world is full of surprises). Plus many of us think we could use some more professional diplomacy and some less comedy in our govt. Guess this is a very common problem all over the world, this time its our turn to "bring the clown" on the scene.
posted by elpapacito at 1:54 PM on July 2, 2003

Silvio Berlusconi? Why did I think it was Benito?
posted by uosuaq at 2:17 PM on July 2, 2003

From Reuters:

The German government called in the Italian ambassador in Berlin to tell him Berlusconi's comments were "unacceptable."

The Italian Foreign Ministry summoned the German ambassador late Wednesday and told him Schulz's remarks were "a grave, unacceptable offence" to Berlusconi's dignity and to the Italian and European institutions.

Berlusconi said Schulz had insulted him and his country. He interrupted Cox at a joint news conference by banging on the table imitating the manner in which some MEPs attacked him.

The leaders of two of the four main parties in Italy's center-right coalition distanced themselves from Berlusconi's comments, and Greens leader Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio said "For the good of the nation, Berlusconi should apologize and resign."

Maybe something is happening. At least this is good entertainment. Did anybody notice what was the insult against "his country" in Schulz's question?
posted by hoskala at 3:20 PM on July 2, 2003

I'm trying to find out what kind of statements Schulz made , so far no luck ..some link you may want to visit on the topic:

European Parliament summary of today events, including some interesting lines..

"Turning to the comments made by Mr Schulz earlier in the debate on Italy's immigration policy, Mr Berlusconi said that he knew of an Italian director who was making a film on Nazi concentration camps, and that Mr Schulz would be the ideal lead."

Some video of Berlusconi stating how great is he at recruiting people for television :) while calling somebody a Kapò is here at the bottom of the page, RealPlayer required, english audio.

He's also a master at gaffes and here you can find a list made by CNN. No doubt he knows how to play with the media.

Unfortunately, he seems to be ossessed by communism, he sees communists everywhere and everybody not agreeing with him either a communist or somebody that didn't manage a company (like u did it all one Silvio) therefore an idiot.

Anybody could help with some transcript of what happened in the Parliament today ?
posted by elpapacito at 4:10 PM on July 2, 2003

Every time I shudder in horror at the words and actions of our own little fascist president, Jóse María Aznar, I just look East and think to myself, "Well, at least he's not Berlusconi...!"

Thankfully for the Spanish, Berlusconi is the EU's worst embarassment, although at times our pint-sized war-monger Jóse María is breathing down his neck.

I saw the exchange between Berlusconi and Schulz briefly on the news this afternoon. After making the nazi comment, Berlusconi tried to defend himself from the jeers by saying that he was being "ironic" and then looked surprised and confused when nobody laughed at his "funny" joke.


Keep in mind that this was his very first intervention as acting Presidnent of the EU.
posted by sic at 5:59 PM on July 2, 2003

IIRC, the remark to which Burlesconi took offense included the word "mafia."

Matteo, say what you will about his club, they still made it through the CL and did what was necessary to take the Cup. I watched the final and cannot say Juventus played any better, that's for sure.

romakimmy, we miss you on SpoFi!
posted by billsaysthis at 6:42 PM on July 2, 2003

So now they're Two 'N' words? Shhhhh.
posted by HTuttle at 7:55 PM on July 2, 2003

I think Berlusconi is about to discover that he's bitten off more than he can chew. He can get away with that sort of thing in Italian politics. When he tries the same brazen tactics at a European level, he gets shot down. I thought he had more political savvy than that.
posted by salmacis at 1:13 AM on July 3, 2003

but I guess many other EU countries have more or less hidden problems with their politicians so at least we're not alone.
elpapacito... fortunately (for the rest of the EU) that isn't the case. There is no other example of a government being composed of crooks, "meta"-fascists (Fini) and crypto-fascists (Bossi). There is no other example of a prome-minister that is also the owner of the three (if I'm keeping track) most popular private TV stations (plus complete control of the public TV stations). In fact the picture I get from friends living in Italy is that this widespread condemnation of Berlusconi outside Italy and his status as a pariah in Europe, is not reported by his or the public TV stations in the country.
In fact I mirror sic's statement that everytime I shudder in horror at the words and actions of our pseudo-socialist gang of thieves and neo-liberal swindlers / Bush appeasers, I look to the East and mutter "it could be worse".
(for US MeFites: Imagine dubya, owning Enron, NBC, CBS and ABC, accused by supreme court members of trying to bribe / intimidate them, having an active Aryan Nation / KKK member in his cabinet, working with the mob and passing through a republican majority laws that offer him indemnity from all criminal charges... that's Berlusconi)
posted by talos at 4:52 AM on July 3, 2003

Get it sorted Italy.
posted by Summer at 5:43 AM on July 3, 2003

The Italian Duhbya... Berlusconi!
posted by nofundy at 5:46 AM on July 3, 2003

I didn't vote for him, FWIW. And I really wish he would go crawl back into whatever little hellhole he crawled out of and die there. -_- This is not the first time he pulls this kind of shit, and I'm ashamed to have somebody like that as the head of government. Sigh.

I think Berlusconi is about to discover that he's bitten off more than he can chew. He can get away with that sort of thing in Italian politics. When he tries the same brazen tactics at a European level, he gets shot down. I thought he had more political savvy than that.

You're assuming he's actually politically savvy... he isn't. He doesn't even have a proper brain, it appears. "Ohhh! He provoked me! Must insult him, so I look like an idiot, rather than replying neutrally so he looks like an idiot!"

IIRC, the remark to which Burlesconi took offense included the word "mafia."

No, he was accused of (IIRC) using his power to get out of his troubles with the law. Which he's doing. :P

And now, he's apparently accusing the opposition of staging the attacks that sparked the comment. Joy.
posted by sailoreagle at 7:05 AM on July 3, 2003

I asked my Italian friends how Berlusconi got into power around the time he was elected, they said that people thought he would be able to translate the success of his businesses to the Italian nation. I was incredulous that anyone who had any knowledge of Berlusconi's business practices would be fooled by this, but people either didn't know or care, so he was voted in. Italy was in a poor condition at that time. It is now in a worse state.
posted by asok at 5:47 AM on July 4, 2003

Here, for your amusement, is the babelfish translation of Herr Schulz's address:

Mr. Praesident, Ladies and Gentlemen! I contact first the colleague Poettering. The colleague Poettering praised the authority in the advice bank, which traveled here from Italy, in almost euphoric form: Berlusconi, Fini, Frattini, Buttiglione, I had fear, it still comes with Maldini and Del Piero and Garibaldi and Cavour, but he forgot, i.e. one the Mr. Bossi. That is also a member of this government, and the smallest expression, which this man makes, is worse than everything, about what this parliament seized resolutions against Austria and the membership of the FPOe in the Austrian government. About that we must talk then also once.


you are not responsible, Mr. Ratspraesident, for whom intelligence quotients of your Ministers, but for are responsible what say, you already. The expressions of Bossi, your Minister for the immigration policy, which you mentioned in your speech, are compatible in keinster way with the fundamental right Charter of the European union. They are requested as an advice president to defend these values. Then you defend these values against your own Minister!

I want to take up a word, which the colleague Di Pietro mentioned here. The virus of the clash of interest, he said, may not be lifted not on the European level. Yes, there he is right, and now one is here in this house for days always in the difficult situation, if one talks about the Italian council presidency, then is called always it: Yes, now it is careful that you do not criticize the Berlusconi because of what he does in Italy, because that lost nothing here in the European parliament. Why? Isn't Italy member of the European union?


Naturally that lost somewhat, and I legend you here why: Which you make as prime ministers of Italy, but the colleagues and colleague of the Italian parliament are selected, in order to discuss with you, but which you do as a president of the advice, but we are here responsible. There legend I you: They talked about the area of security, the liberty and the right, about the Tampere process. There you used a term: EURO POLE, but three terms did not use you, and to it I want to remind you and ask you whether you can say something please to these three things. What do you intend to do for the acceleration of the mechanism of a European public prosecutor's office?

What do you intend to do for the acceleration of the entry into force of the European warrant of arrest? What do you intend to do with the mutual acknowledgment of documents in transnational criminal procedures? There you would have by the way in its own country a little reform need, which concerns the document authenticity. If you accomplish a reform in the own country, the European warrant of arrest could enter into force many faster.

I am pleased nevertheless that you and discuss I can sit today here with you. That owe we not least Nicole Fontaine, because if Nicole Fontaine had not created it so well, the immunity procedures Berlusconi and Dell'Utri, her assistant, who are once present today exeptionally, so for a long time to retard, then would not have you the immunity, which you need, no more possessed. Also that is truth, which may be said on this day here! (interruptions)

I think you get the idea. It's probably acidically witty in the original but you're probably getting about what Berlusconi got through his headphones.

The Times weighs in today "..The furore at Strasbourg was wholly artificial and mostly party political. Signor Berlusconi walked into an ambush set by his domestic enemies and overseas critics.... and Signor Berlusconi fell into the trap. His honour was impugned, his patriotism challenged. He should have ignored Herr Schulz. He should certainly not have referred to concentration camps.
posted by grahamwell at 8:51 AM on July 4, 2003

Shultz! Zee Russian front!!
posted by xowie at 7:08 AM on July 5, 2003

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