Feature

Italy: Berlusconi rises to the tragic occasion

Ever since the earthquake in northern Italy, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has been visiting practically every crumbled church and tattered village and offering advice and cheer, said Julius M&uuml;ller-Meiningen in the<strong> &lt

Julius Müller-MeiningenBerliner Zeitung (Germany)

Italy’s prime minister is “everywhere at once,” said Julius Müller-Meiningen. Ever since an earthquake in northern Italy last week killed nearly 300 people and left thousands homeless, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has been ubiquitous, visiting practically every crumbled church and tattered village and offering advice and cheer. He is simultaneously “insurance agent, fireman, engineer, psychologist, and chief mourner.” It’s almost as if he is determined to embody “the direct opposite of George W. Bush’s disastrous apathy in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.”

And the Italians are eating it up. They forgive Berlusconi his gaffes, such as when he told earthquake victims huddling in a makeshift shelter that they should “consider the experience a free camping trip.” Such a tone-deaf suggestion would prompt outrage here in Germany and might even bring calls for the speaker’s resignation. But in Italy, the prime minister’s “frivolity” is seen as charming, even uplifting. Italians, after all, admire enthusiasm—and right now, they are grateful for their “comedian in chief.”

Recommended

Volcano erupts on the Canary Island of La Palma, forcing evacuations
A volcano erupts in the Canary Islands.
eruptions

Volcano erupts on the Canary Island of La Palma, forcing evacuations

Largest evacuation flight since Aug. 31 takes off from Kabul
Qatar Airways flight.
afghanistan evacuation

Largest evacuation flight since Aug. 31 takes off from Kabul

10 things you need to know today: September 19, 2021
Scott Morrison.
Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: September 19, 2021

CIA reportedly warned military about civilian presence just seconds before missile hit in Kabul
Site of U.S. missile strike in Kabul.
afghanistan

CIA reportedly warned military about civilian presence just seconds before missile hit in Kabul

Most Popular

Did Theranos Lose Afghanistan?
Elizabeth Holmes and James Mattis.
Samuel Goldman

Did Theranos Lose Afghanistan?

FDA panel rejects Pfizer boosters for people 16 and older
Pfizer vaccine
no can do

FDA panel rejects Pfizer boosters for people 16 and older

How Newsom ran away with the recall
Gavin Newsom.
Picture of David FarisDavid Faris

How Newsom ran away with the recall