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A woman’s scorn

John-Paul Witt | Thursday, February 8, 2007

Dateline Italy – The land of pizza, Popes and pasta. Enter the latest, hottest political scandal. No, it’s not about pregnant chads, a stained dress, or even a major political figure yelling “byaaaa” during a speech. It’s about honor, loyalty, and respect. I’m talking about, of course, the scandal involving the former Prime Minister of Italy, Silvio Berlusconi, 70. It seems that he made a few comments, such as, to Miss Amazonia Aida Yespica, “I’d go with you anywhere.” And about a Member of Parliament of his own party, Mara Carfagna, “Take a look at her! I’d marry her if I weren’t married already.”If I weren’t married already. He’s married, of course, to the (beautiful, if I say so myself) former model and actress Veronica Berlusconi, 50. His wife of 27 years.To us Americans, this may not seem so bad. Admittedly, those old enough to remember the last 10 years have been desensitized to extramarital affairs in government. But it seems that, while that evokes a “boys will be boys” response from the electorate, the deliberate, public, verbal besmirching of a woman’s honor is intolerable. I mean, I didn’t see any letters to the New York Times after the events of 1998.But Veronica returned fire: “These are affirmations that I see as damaging to my dignity, affirmations that … cannot be reduced to jokes,” she wrote in a letter to the La Repubblica newspaper. I am impressed. I applaud Veronica for having the courage to stand up for this affront to her self-respect.On the other hand, in 2002, while he was prime minister, Berlusconi said of the Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen that Rasmussen was “the best-looking prime minister in Europe … He’s so good looking, I’m even thinking of introducing him to my wife.” He also said that he charmed the Finnish prime minister, a woman, into allowing the EU to build a facility in Italy by using “all my playboy tactics, even if they have not been used for some time.”Between you and me, I think Veronica should’ve seen this coming. If Berlusconi wasn’t using his A-game “playboy tactics” at home, he had no business using them abroad. You don’t slack off during the year and work hard during summer vacation. Now Veronica has a tell-all book deal, for “Veronica’s Tendency,” and Don Silvio tendered an apology: “I was reluctant in private, because I am playful but also proud. Challenged in public, the temptation to give in [to you] is strong. And I can’t resist.”I think Veronica is great for standing up to this maltreatment. But a book deal? Skip that, and do things the American way: turn the name recognition and publicity into a bid to become Italian’s first female prime minister. At least then she could check out the other male prime ministers, instead of her husband.