Friday, February 18, 2011

Guglielmo and Monica

Neocon Michael Ledeen takes the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal to offer an oblique defence of Silvio Berlusconi, essentially that hey, it's Italy, and anyway it's mainly leftists and wimmin who are trying to prosecute him.  Going a step further than Ledeen does in the article, the sub-editor includes in the headline --

Imagine Dick Cheney being judged by three women from the Yale Law faculty.

whereas Ledeen had just focused on the politics of the Italian judiciary and compared it to Yale Law.  Incidentally, the headline writer's thought experiment means that Tiger Mom Amy Chua would be one of the justices.  Which is neither here nor there.

But anyway, noting Silvio's longevity, Ledeen says --

Three G-8 summits have been held in Italy in the last 17 years (1994, 1999 and 2009).

The point being that Silvio has presided for Italy at all of them.  But there's one revealing error here.  Italy didn't host in 1999.  It hosted in 2001, Genoa.  That was the summit where the Italians put up anti-aircraft weapons around the summit site because there was chatter that terrorists might try and crash a plane into the summit venue.

That was July 2001.

2 months later, attendees at that summit were claiming that no one had thought that had a plane could be used a weapon.  So a little weird that Ledeen has his years wrong on that one. 

So he sums up -- 

There are other legal moves available to him and his enemies, as well as purely political operations. The left is, of course, demanding he resign at once.  But they haven't convicted him yet, and the calls for resignation suggest anxiety among his opponents. My guess is that the trial will not be quite as "immediate" as some are hoping, and no savvy Italian is going to bet the villa on a guilty verdict.

There you have it.  The sex scandal is essentially a shrug of the shoulder affair in the land of the Latin lover.

Let's now cast our minds back to when Ledeen was channelling Machiavelli to write about the Clinton-Lewinsky imbroglio --

Ledeen is especially contemptuous of leaders he regards as weak and corrupt, such as Bill Clinton. In a 1999 article in the scholarly journal Society, he warned of dire consequences if Clinton were not impeached. "New leaders with an iron will are required to root out the corruption and either reestablish a virtuous state, or to institute a new one. . .," he wrote. "If we bask in false security and drop our guard, the rot spreads, corrupting the entire society. Once that happens, only violent and extremely unpleasant methods can bring us back to virtue."

Or, as he says in the article --

Leaders must therefore personify the virtues expected of others (or at least be perceived to be virtuous).

The choices therefore appear to be that Italy is rotten state headed for a bad end, or that Michael Ledeen is a political hack.   Must we choose?

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