The Corner

Silvio!

Pour yourself a big, fat red wine, pull up a chair and relax. Here’s Philip Delves-Broughton’s new interview with Silvio Berlusconi for the Atlantic. It’s well worth your time and your wine.

The piece is shrewd, not entirely unsympathetic and, I think, broadly fair. Where Delves-Broughton delivers his criticisms of Berlusconi (as he must) he does so with a stiletto and a smile, a combination infinitely more effective than the screeching of the usual anti-Berlusconi chorus.

Here’s a sample:

He leans forward, hands on his knees. He wants to be absolutely clear about this. “I have a house with a wonderful park in Sardinia, with a whole series of museums, flowers, and plants, and everyone has this great desire to visit this wonderful place. When I spend my vacations in the summer in Sardinia, I receive requests for 30 or 40 visits to come and see me, from parliament, business people, people from show biz. So it was extremely convenient to put 80 to 100 people together and host a big dinner and show them around. I’ve created a museum of cactuses for example, one of the most complete in the world, a museum of the hibiscus, of palms, of citrus trees, it’s very beautiful very pleasant. It’s a unique opportunity. Then at the end, we’d have dinner, and after dinner there would be music, and after dinner dancing. It was something absolutely normal. It would relieve me of the pressure of 80 single meetings and appointments that I would have to give that would have taken away all my time.”

All those women, then, were part of this elegant, holiday time-saving device. A way to round off a hard day of cactus and hibiscus viewing by horticulturally inclined parliamentarians. He crunches on the ice in his Crodino, a bright orange non-alcoholic aperitif. Berlusconi does not drink. “Many absurd stories were created. I cannot do privately things that are not correct. I must be absolutely correct. That is the behavior that I uphold. I did nothing. It’s the others who have slandered me who have lied about what I do.”

Was he then the victim of a stereotype of Italian men? He smiles broadly. “Sure. I’m not a Playboy, I’m a Play-uomo [Playman]” Then that deep laugh, heh-heh-heh.

Heh-heh-heh indeed, as a certain blogger would (if channeling Max Headroom) say.

Read la cosa intera.

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