July 25th, 2009
A bit of amusement. I was reminded of Europeans treating the Monica Lewinsky thing with a measure of humor about how conservative we were in our values when it was well known that some leaders in Europe had affairs.
Now we can laugh back: Hey Italy, at least our president slept with an intern, not a call girl!
(No, I don't really care beyond that. I don't think that scandal is worse than Clinton's affair and so it deserves about as much moral outrage: namely none at all.)
It does seem odd that Italians are up in arms about it though -- they had a porn star elected to Parliament!
This snippet from the article (which is not from American press, by the way):
Both posts by L'Espresso followed an opinion survey that registered a four-point drop in the billionaire premier's approval rating, putting him below the 50 percent mark for the first time since his election in April 2008.
The poll by the IPR institute for the daily La Repubblica - part of L'Espresso's media group - gave Berlusconi a 49 percent approval rating, the lowest since he swept back to power for a third time since 1994.
Berlusconi's successful hosting of the Group of Eight summit this month in the earthquake-hit city of L'Aquila "may have slowed a hemorrhage that could have been much worse," La Repubblica said.
Political scientist Marc Lazar said voters were beginning to chafe at the scandals, notably "practicing Catholics, country people and the elderly." In an interview, Lazar said: "Berlusconi is in trouble for not answering questions that have been asked of him."
would suggest that people are pretty annoyed by it. It certainly does have echoes of the Lewinsky scandal -- Clinton was impeached for not truthfully answering questions asked of him.
The mistake you make is pinning it on *one* call girl. He's had countless, as well as models and actresses, and I can assure you none was as bland as that Lewinsky chick. And the annoyance is at the indiscretion, not at the action - he's *Italian* fercrissakes, any Italian worth his name has at least one mistress.
And it has absolutely no echoes of impeachment. The questions are not asked for that purpose, even remotely. If he doesn't answer them, or lies, the government couldn't care less (or at least no more than they have to for prudence sake). Those who care are the ones who would have expected him to be a *gentleman*, and thus a helluva lot more discrete. The whole US fiasco was a true farce of epic proportions, and this little Italian kerfuffle doesn't even begin to compare.
Seriously. Impeach a president over an intern, and let another kill thousands of Americans on false premises and get away with it? Epic farce doesn't even begin to cover it.
You're misunderstanding why I said it has echoes of the Lewinsky scandal. Clinton was impeached for not truthfully answering questions asked of him. The political scientist quoted in the article says "Berlusconi is in trouble for not answering questions that have been asked of him."
The mistake you make is pinning it on *one* call girl.
I didn't pin it on one call girl. All I said was that I'm amused that Italians are upset with their prime minister for the same reason that some Americans were upset with Clinton.
And yet they're not. The difference is subtle but definite. And therein lies an important lesson in why the world laughs at the US so much.
Man, you're like a truck driver driving towards a bridge that's out and ignoring street signs, the sawhorses in the street, the people yelling and screaming, and the cops chasing you with their sirens on.
"Berlusconi is in trouble for not answering questions that have been asked of him."
"Clinton was impeached for not truthfully answering questions asked of him."
If you cannot see the similarity and acknowledge it, then you are either:
1) Too stubborn to accept that you're wrong, or
2) Too stupid to understand that you're wrong, or
3) Rotten at reading and comprehending English, or
4) Some of the above, or
5) All of the above
Would you circle one of those? I'll take it into account the next time I have one of these odd discussions with you.
Oh, there is a similarity, I'm not denying that. But the devil, as always, is in the details - and those details matter a lot in this case, is my point. I've spent a fair bit of time living and working in both Italy and France, as well as in the US, so I can readily see the differences here, subtle as they may be on the surface, and they show a vast difference in underlying mindset leading up to Clinton vs leading up to the present Berlusconi thing.
That's my entire point. And despite your stated lack of interest, politics and the social context in which it lives in various parts of the world is fascinating, and well worth the time to study in more depth.
And despite your stated lack of interest, politics and the social context in which it lives in various parts of the world is fascinating, and well worth the time to study in more depth.
Well then, I'm intrigued to hear that you *are* interested in the affairs of European leaders -- that's the only thing I've expressed a disinterest in here. I can only assume that it's like how many people seem to feel about the affairs of celebrities.
As fascinating as that may be, the only sex lives that I have much of an interest in are the ones I'm personally involved in. Still, if I ever have a question about who others are sleeping with, I'll be sure to remember your apparent expertise in the area and ask you.
Oh, there is a similarity, I'm not denying that.
Good enough -- then perhaps you'll understand why I thought it was amusing.
No, it's not like with celebrities. Unlike celebrities, politicians directly affect our daily lives - indeed our very survival. Thus, their tastes and behaviour in all aspects is of interest. And it doesn't require becoming an expert in their sex lives to get an incling about their personal morality, but keeping an eye on statistics and what they say, both directly and between the lines, is very telling. And of course, understanding the basic social context of the nation they're from an in helps very much as well.
All this comes from being cynical enough to realize that my own views in these matters govern both my actions and the policies I would like supported. I expect it is the same for them. Thus, their affairs are of direct public interest, even if they're not a high priority.
And yes, I understand why you thought it amusing that Berlusconi flaunting dozens of paid lovers and not wanting to talk about them causes him to lose some popularity while the world was stunned and amused that the president of the United States was dragged in front of government hearings for getting a BJ and not wanting to talk about it.
I'm just pointing out how silly I find the comparison. I'm not trying to be a dick about it, but you're not making that easy either, you know.
I'm not trying to be a dick about it, but you're not making that easy either, you know.
To be honest, it's the only way I know of to get you to acknowledge what I've said instead of endlessly posting the same three comments.
I wish that were a joke, but I've tried a variety of different tactics when discussing things with you and the one which leads to the fewest misunderstandings and misreadings is to be right on the edge of insulting.
Unlike celebrities, politicians directly affect our daily lives - indeed our very survival. Thus, their tastes and behaviour in all aspects is of interest.
I suspect you've probably seen the comparison which asks who you would elect to public office (I'll spare you the misleading prose that normally goes into it):
1) a complete drunk
2) a womanizer who was known to associate with gangsters
3) a guy who didn't drink, didn't smoke, and was a vegetarian.
Those selective descriptions are based on three real people -- Churchill, FDR, and Hitler, respectively.
To be fair, I hold to what seems to be a very unfashionable concept -- that formal logic is right about ad hominem arguments being fallacious.
(I'm not sure why that's fallen out of favor -- maybe it's because people believe just a little bit more in determinism and the possibility that if you understand everything about a person, then you can predict what they are going to do. Maybe it's because high speed computing and the ability to run accurate simulations of various phenomena. Who knows?)
Edited at 2009-07-26 07:43 pm (UTC)
I acknowledged what you said from the start; that I disagree doesn't mean I do not understand. And I'm not making the claim that any one thing should be seen in isolation - indeed, the very examples you provide show why. Plus, none of those three held to particularly good policies on civil liberties and abortion, just to take a couple of semi-random points I happen to find important.
The point isn't the logic here, but the premises. If a person makes decisions about law based on their moral conviction, I would very much like to know what their moral conviction is, as I can't very well look at the laws that will be proposed during the candidates term of office and see his decisions beforehand.
Things would be a lot simpler if people didn't act from their convictions, but from a position of evidence and logic. But as long as I can't expect that from politicians, an informed view of their views is about as good as I can get.