February 17, 2011 by camille hayes
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has given us so much over the years, that it’s hard to know how best to express our gratitude. What’s the appropriate thank you gift for a European premier who elevated showgirls to Parliamentary seats, and once told an African priest that he had a “nice tan”? A muffin basket? Some kind of desk globe?
Berlusconi is an all-purpose wanker, who’s dodged charges on everything from tax evasion to bribery. But where he truly excels is in the denigration of women. When it comes to lady-hating, he is a rock star. There was that time he hit on a female politician, at an official function and in front of his then-wife, who in turn told anyone who would listen that he was a misogynist jackass. Then there were the allegations that he hosts “bunga-bunga parties” (what?) where sex workers dress as naughty nurses or something, and frolic with his 74-year-old self at the ministerial residence and other totally appropriate places. And through it all he’s retained his office, battling forces that would have defeated other, less determinedly skanky men.
Now it looks like the underage chickens have finally come home to roost, as Berlusconi prepares to go on trial for child prostitution charges stemming from his relationship with the 17-year-old Moroccan girl Karima el-Mahroug. The funny part (there are so many funny parts to this story!) is that he probably would have gotten away with it, had he not sent a lackey to bail el-Mahroug out of jail, presumably to keep her away from state officials. When reporters got wind of it he tried to cover his tracks, with the least convincing cover-up story since Larry Craig’s “wide stance” in the gay-assignation toilet stall: he said he’d sprung for bail because he thought she was the niece of then-Egyptian President Mubarak.*
Italy sets a pretty high bar for what qualifies as sexual misconduct. Similar to how, in America, you have to tie up and drag an entire black family behind your car before anyone is allowed to say you’re racist, in Italy you have to sleep with a 17-year-old hooker, bail her out of the jail in which she’s being held for larceny, then tell a hilariously transparent lie involving another asshole head of state before anyone will hold you accountable for your appalling treatment of women.
But Italian women may have the last laugh; Berlusconi’s trial judges were announced this week and it’s—wait for it—an all-female panel. Things are looking bleak for this priapic senior, but there are still some possible paths to his redemption. After all, he’s a media mogul who controls much of Italy’s TV programming. He could start his own talk show called “Silvio! I Am Super-Awesome and Not At All a Revolting Pig.” Or he could just keep his creepy old-man parts away from teenage girls. But, you know, baby steps.
*Please note: Morocco and Egypt are not the same country. However the people in these countries are similar, in that they all have really nice tans.