Satire writers love George W Bush because he gives them such an abundance of material to work with. He’s high profile, completely wooden in front of the cameras and prone to the odd verbal gaffe every now and again. Surely he takes the number one spot as ‘complete political buffoon in the entire world’?
Not in my book. I would like to propose the Signor Numero Uno in Italy as my candidate for that accolade, the crooning tycoon himself, Silvio Berlusconi. And I’ll tell you why.
Bush is currently filling the spot of the most powerful man in the world, but rarely gives the impression that he actually is. God knows how many spin doctors, advisers, lawyers and dentists are there behind the scenes, telling him what to do, what to say. We all know Daddy Bush must give Junior a little pep talk at least five times a day. Bush acts like the baby puppet in a grown up world, awkwardly going through the motions, all the while wishing he were home on the shooting range rather than standing up in front of journalists delivering maxims crafted for him by his entourage.
But Berlusconi is different. This pompous gaffe-a-minute buffoon truly believes he is the most powerful man in the world. He doesn’t listen to advisers. I doubt if any of his fawning, sycophantic cronies ever dare to tell him what to say in front of the cameras, for fear of losing their jobs. He says what he wants and it’s usually manna from heaven for a satire writer.
One example? Berlusconi displaying his incisive historical knowledge: “Mussolini ran a benign regime. He never killed anyone, he just sent people away on holiday.”
Another? Berlusconi speaking to a group of Wall St traders, trying to woo them to invest in his country and displaying his profound understanding of economics: “Come to Italy – we have the most beautiful secretaries in the world.”
What about this one? Berlusconi disparaging Finland’s credentials to run the European Food Agency: “How could they? They’ve never even heard of prosciutto in Finland.”
It’s important to understand the context of these statements. Maybe he could get away with them more if they were intended as mere jokes, asides from the real content of his responses. But more often than not, comments like these represent the crux of his argument.
It’s also important to know how Berlusconi currently rules Italy. Imagine Rupert Murdoch as British Prime Minister, but not only owning Sky and a few newspapers but also ITV and Channel 4. On top of that, imagine that the BBC is more or less gagged from coming out with any objective criticism of his tomfoolery. No cutting edge satire shows are allowed. Perhaps the odd documentary at midnight on a Sunday night. In short, Berlusconi rules the airwaves and the television screens, serving up a non-stop stream of inane variety show nonsense, full of ‘beautiful people’ smiling in a perfect world.
This goes a little way to explaining why I hate this man so much. My advice to spoof writers? “Come to Italy – we have the biggest plonker in the world.”