Finished reading a biography on Silvio Berlusconi by NY Times journalist Alan Friedman.
The first thing that strikes the eye is that Berlusconi appointed a NY times journalist to write his biography. Likely he thought Friedman would reach a broad Western audience, but throughout the book it is quite obvious that Friedman harbors typical leftist resentment towards Berlusconi and finds him arrogant, shallow and egotistic and deserving of condemnation by the international community. Yet Friedman cannot help but reveal envy in his writing, because every man would envy the Italian version of Donald Trump. This made for an interesting read.
Berlusconi’s life is impressive. Started as a singer on cruise ships. Made his fortune in real estate, exploiting every grey area in the book. Went on to buy and quite actively coached AC Milan. Then made an even bigger fortune by building the first privately-owned Italian media empire. Finally topped it of by becoming prime minister 4 times, getting cozy with Bush Jr. and Putin in the process. Eventually taken down by the judicial system on the charge of corruption and bad press on the charge of bunga bunga, although financially he is still good for some 8.4 billion euros, putting him in the top 500 richest people in the world.
Privately he has 5 kids with 2 wives and not quite impossibly a couple of bastard children. He seduced his 2nd wife, an actress, in the theater while he was still married with his first. Eventually married her. Funny story: when he inevitably grew bored with his 2nd wife, she did not go down easy and published letters in anti-Berlusconi media attacking Berlusconi for ‘hurting her dignity’ (a.k.a. flirting and boning anything with a vagina). The result was a divorce after which Berlusconi had to pay her 1.5 million euros in alimentation each month. Lol.
I like Berlusconi. Guy is a charmer, a natural Italian alpha oozing with life force. How can you not like the guy? (when you’re an envious leftist like Friedman, that’s when.)
Talking about leftists, guess what Berlusconi’s explanation of his eventual downfall was? He said it was leftists, especially in the judicial system, who conspired against him. Yes, Berlusconi throughout his life repeatedly blamed a conspiracy of leftists! Friedman predictably waves this away as an example of a man who believes his own propaganda, but seems obvious that Berlusconi was on the money and that the Italian cathedral was out to get him, eventually got him.
Hilariously, while Berlusconi knew leftists hated his guts, he did not understand the nature of the leftist beast, the cathedral. The best passage in the book is when Berlusconi attends the 2011 G20 with Obama, Merkel and Sarkozy and the following happens:
“Obama looked speechless when Berlusconi stood behind him, laid a hand on Obama’s shoulder and greeted him. ‘How are you?’ Obama asked courteously. ‘Good, thank you’ said Berlusconi, who went on a rant about Italian prosecutors in front of the flabbergasted president. While Merkel and Sarkozy observed the spectacle with surprise, Berlusconi complained minutes on end to Obama about the ‘dictatorship of leftist judges’ in Italy and how he wanted to reform the judicial system. This went on for a while until Sarkzoy made a call for order and ended Berlusconi’s little tirade.”
So basically Silvo Berlusconi explained the nature of the cathedral to the PR department of the cathedral. Fucking L.O.L. I can only imagine Obama, Sarkozy and Merkel huddling together afterwards, speaking in hushed, angry voices: ‘who the fuck does this clown think he is?’ ‘he’s gotta go.’ ‘definitely.’ I would not be surprised if this stunt signed Berlusconi’s death warrant.
The other interesting thing about European politics is how serious we are supposed to take these very temporary leaders. Sarkozy, for example, is presented as an authoritarian figure who tries to reshape Europe in his own image. Obama is presented as a wise intermediary who tries to get all the parties to listen to one another. The book is written in 2015, it is now 2017. Where is Obama, where is Sarkozy? Gone, forgotten. They were much less important than we were told they were, their only legacy being further movement leftwards. Thus we can conclude that the story the media tells us about European politics is like the Bold and Beautiful for men.
Did Berlusconi deserve his political downfall? Seems to me not so much.
The 2 charges made against Berlusconi are corruption and hedonism.
Corruption, the use of money to reach an illegal agreement, is a natural way of life in Italy. It has also become a natural way of life in a world where illegality and legality is the difference between mobile bandits and stationary bandits. Thus suing people for ‘corruption’ is like suing people for peeing. Berlusconi became the victim of an unprincipled exception that for him no longer was an unprincipled exception.
The second, his rampant partying and sleeping with women and whores, I am not so offended about either. I can hardly be outraged about Berlusconi banging 17-year old Ruby the whore, except, predictably, out of jealousy.
Did he set a good example for men? Well he is Northern-Italian, so barely inside the Hajnal line. Also it does not seem to me that Berlusconi slept with wives of important men, it seems to me he slept with whores and un-owned women. I can hardly call his Bunga Bunga partying decent, but neither would it be reason for me to enter the streets with torches and pitchforks demanding his resignation.
Let me put it this way: if an English king acted this way, it would be severely frowned upon. If an Italian king acted this way, it would be slightly frowned upon. Different people, different standards.
Not that it matters for Berlusconi, who in the end was neutered pretty effectively. But Berlusconi was just one man with few allies (he got along very well with Bush Jr, who was a useless ally, and with Putin, who was a dangerous ally). In the age of Trump, should be interesting to see more strongmen rising and cooperating with each other against the GloboHomoBezos ministry of propaganda.