Monday 23 January 2017

Kevin Myers: Bunga bunga is not Italy's greatest threat

Kevin Myers

Published 16/02/2011 | 05:00

There is something irresistibly revolting about the antics of that grisly old goat Berlusconi. He is truly the Italian nightmare, the embodiment of all the worst of the national caricatures: a priapic mountebank, a sleazy, corrupt, vainglorious, sexually predatory, conceited and boastful old man.

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The equivalent for Irish susceptibilities would be a cross between Charles Haughey and Fr Michael Cleary. For all nationalities have some loathsome caricatures: it is Italy's misfortune that they are embodied in their prime minister. Poor Italy. Two of the uniquely meaningful words which it has given to the English language are "fiasco" and "imbroglio". Berlusconi perhaps explains why.

However, contrary to what Joe Duffy announced on RTE Radio One yesterday, Berlusconi has not been charged with having sex with a child, which is an offence beyond all redemption, but with a young woman who was old enough to have sex, but not old enough to sell it. (What matter the truth when you have a mob to address?) But sordid though Berlusconi's antics might have been, they will soon be forgotten, just as those of the countless other jackanapes -- from all our pasts -- have vanished completely. What will not pass is the far greater crisis gathering along Italy's southern margins, and which has been almost totally obscured by the Berlusconi affair. It is an extension of the convulsion seizing almost the entire Arab world: a thousand Tunisian refugees arriving on the Italian island of Lampedusa in a single day. And Tunisia is the successful Arab state. In other words, welcome to tomorrow.

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