Do we deserve the politicians we have?

Most world leaders try to avoid repeating gaffes. Not Silvio Berlusconi. The Italian Prime Minister has called President Obama “tanned” again — but this time he did not miss the opportunity to joke about the First Lady’s skin colour as well.

After his return from the G20 summit in Pittsburgh, Mr Berlusconi told a rally of conservative supporters that he was bringing greetings from someone in the United States.

“What’s his name? Some tanned guy. Ah, Barack Obama,” he said. He then added: “You won’t believe it, but the two of them sunbathe together, because the wife is also tanned.”

This is not the first time Mr Berlusconi has made reference to the US president’s race. Soon after Mr Obama won the election in November 2008, and became America’s first black president, Mr Berlusconi raised eyebrows by saying the victor was “young, handsome, and even has a good tan”.

Mr Berlusconi’s latest comments followed a seemingly tense greeting from the Obamas, who hosted the Pittsburgh G20 summit last week.

As he approached the President and his wife, the Italian media tycoon threw his arms in the air, in what could have either been a gesture of admiration, or an invitation for an embrace from Michelle.

Instead, Mrs Obama offered him only a formal handshake — while her husband looked on, severely. She did not appear to want to go too close to Mr Berlusconi, who has been plagued by revelations about his private life over the past six months, including an allegation that he spent the night of the US presidential election in bed with a prostitute.

Mrs Obama’s formal greeting was in marked contrast to the apparent warm welcome received by other world leaders. She exchanged hugs and kisses with the Sarkozys, the Medvedevs, Angela Merkel and the Browns.

None of this, however, deterred Mr Berlusconi from putting on a triumphant show at a political rally of the party faithful in Milan on Sunday evening. In addition to repeating the remarks about the Obamas’ “suntan”, he could not resist propositioning a woman who was applauding enthusiastically in the crowd. “Signora, wait for me outside,” he joked.

The gag was met with laughter by supporters, who sang the slogan “Thank God there’s Silvio”, and gave the Prime Minister a standing ovation. He boasted that his party had “returned a new element to Italian politics: the morality of keeping commitments” and declared the party would “lead forever”.

The billionaire, who turns 73 today, then quipped: “On Tuesday I will celebrate my 27th, no 37th, birthday. You know I’m not good at maths,” to more laughter.

At the last G20 summit in London earlier this year, many Italians cringed when their Prime Minister put his arm round the American President and copied his thumbs-up gesture for the official photograph of the leaders.

In the past, Mr Berlusconi has also come under fire from critics, including his wife, for promoting glamorous young women with scant political experience into political jobs.

Source: The Times

The original gaffe:

Not content, he repeats the gaffe:

The rejection:

He even annoyed the Queen:

Like most Italian men, Silvio thinks foreign women like Michelle will fall at his feet. Instead, she rejects him in an awkward encounter.

Can you think of any other embarrassing moments committed by politicians?

I think Berlusconi is widely admired in Italy because they see themselves in him.

Do you remember the time when he disappeared from the scene to have a hair transplant and other cosmetic surgery? Not all Italian men can afford such surgery, but most of them are really vain. They are worse than the women for time spent getting ready and they can often be found admiring themselves in their reflection.

Do you remember the time when Berlusconi claimed to have won the support of the female Finnish President by using his masculine charm? Italian men like to think of themselves as irresistable to women. Observing their attempts to chat up women is usually comical.

Berlusconi has so far been able to avoid corruption charges. Cheating and beating the system is widely admired in Italy. It doesn't matter how you win or succeed. Just look at their football team.

And I could go on and on .......

So, do you think we have the leaders and politicians that reflect our society? We all complain about them but do you think we deserve them in the end?


Anonymous said…
I would be embarrassed if I had a Prime Minister like this "Sir".

Graham said…
And there seems no end to the embarrassment.....