If one is already a little paranoid about what might happen in Italy in the next few weeks, it doesn't help to see Michael Ledeen pop up in Thursday's Wall Street Journal (subs. req'd) to offer his description and analysis of recent events. Ledeen's usual subjects these days are Iran and Iraq but he has long-standing Italian interests, which is precisely why anyone wondering how those Niger forgeries really got from Rome to Washington should seek his insights. For the most part the article is a pretty even-handed account, although he can't resist the Bush-Berlusconi analogies (in his mind, a compliment). But then there's his breezy conclusion:
Indeed, it is still technically possible for Mr. Berlusconi to remain in office, because the courts are required to check the tallies, which are reported telephonically to the interior ministry. There is normally a difference of 40,000 to 60,000 votes between the original results provided by the interior ministry and the final numbers. In 2001 the number was 57,000. So it is still possible that, when the courts announce the results on April 28, the center-right will have a stable majority in the Chamber. It would only require a shift of about 13,000 votes.
Does he know something we don't?