The Corner

An Old Italian Saying Is About to Be Tested

So Berlusconi failed to get a majority in Parliament, and thus his government is no longer viable. After consultations with President Napolitano, he announced that he would preside over the urgent vote on the financial crisis — the EU has made various demands, and Italy has to act — after which he will resign.

At that point, Napolitano can ask someone else to form a government capable of getting a majority, or call for new elections. Berlusconi’s enemies want to wheel and deal and form a new government. Nobody feels very confident about the outcome of elections. The Left, which has desperately maneuvered for the downfall of Berlusconi for many years, has no popular alternative leader, and those on the right or the center-right are similarly without charisma.

There’s a new generation of amazingly young (I’m talking thirty-year-olds) political figures, but none of them is considered “ready” for the top job, and the older pols shudder at the thought of a generational transition.

So there must be a lot of scrambling in Rome right now.

What is the bottom line on Berlusconi? Well, he certainly had more fun than any prime minister in memory, anywhere. Contrary to the nonsense in the media — notably the British press — he saved press freedom in Italy, first by creating private television, and second by funding some truly independent publications, notably il Foglio, the most lively newspaper in the country. He holds the record for longevity in office since the war. He was a dependable ally for us, a friend of Israel, an outspoken critic of the Islamists, and a ferocious fighter against the country’s often-biased judicial system.

Could be a lot worse — as we’re unfortunately likely to see. For sure, his successor, from whatever party, will be a lot less entertaining. The country is in a mess — nothing new there, of course — and there will be a period of austerity. But then Italians like to say that “things were better when things were worse.”

That’ll be tested soon.

Michael LedeenMichael Ledeen is an American historian, philosopher, foreign-policy analyst, and writer. He is a former consultant to the National Security Council, the Department of State, and the Department of Defense. ...

Most Popular

How to Avoid a China-Led World Order

As the COVID-19 crisis has unfolded, it has opened our eyes to China’s rapidly expanding role in the international order and global economy. Beijing’s outsize role in the World Health Organization has come under attack, as has the muscular diplomacy used by China’s foreign ministry in responding to ... Read More

How to Avoid a China-Led World Order

As the COVID-19 crisis has unfolded, it has opened our eyes to China’s rapidly expanding role in the international order and global economy. Beijing’s outsize role in the World Health Organization has come under attack, as has the muscular diplomacy used by China’s foreign ministry in responding to ... Read More
Education

Science, Coronavirus, and Notre Dame

A few weeks back, the University of Notre Dame outlined its plan for reopening campus in the fall, detailing the way in which the administration hopes to bring students back to South Bend to resume in-person classes. Like the overwhelming majority of colleges and universities in the U.S., Notre Dame shifted all ... Read More
Education

Science, Coronavirus, and Notre Dame

A few weeks back, the University of Notre Dame outlined its plan for reopening campus in the fall, detailing the way in which the administration hopes to bring students back to South Bend to resume in-person classes. Like the overwhelming majority of colleges and universities in the U.S., Notre Dame shifted all ... Read More
Elections

Biden’s Middle-Class Tax Pledge

Biden is pledging not to raise taxes on anyone making less than $400,000 a year. As I note in my Bloomberg Opinion column, Democratic proposals to increase income taxes keep getting narrower in scope. In 1993, President Bill Clinton and a Democratic Congress raised income taxes on households making more than ... Read More
Elections

Biden’s Middle-Class Tax Pledge

Biden is pledging not to raise taxes on anyone making less than $400,000 a year. As I note in my Bloomberg Opinion column, Democratic proposals to increase income taxes keep getting narrower in scope. In 1993, President Bill Clinton and a Democratic Congress raised income taxes on households making more than ... Read More