A (translated) headline from Yle, the Finnish equivalent of BBC, today: “Berlusconi likes grown-up Finnish women“.
Ah, it’s my favorite foreign politician again!
I have no good idea of what kind of a politician Mr. Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian Prime Minister, is — actually, I’ve heard he is a bit megalomaniacal — but he sure is a player: a person who knows what to say to make things lively, and to keep himself in the headlines.
The headline-phrase apparently tumbled out after people said Berlusconi’s candidate choices for the next election tended to be too much on the young and female side — thus the “especially grown-up ones” bit.
His earlier brags include dropping a hint that Italy beat Finland in one EU squabble because he used his manly charms (“dust off my playboy skills”) on our President Tarja Halonen — to make things clear, Silvio is a guy, Tarja a gal, and this was at best a metaphorical statement. (Otherwise, pics or STFU.) When this hit the papers, someone in our foreign ministry exhibited what I consider a serious case of funnybone failure, and invited the Italian ambassador in for a loooong, serious talk.
Well, someone of Berlusconi’s camp explained quickly that “anyone who had seen a picture of Halonen must have been aware that he had been joking” — this did not help.
Silvio’s also said a few dismissive words about Finnish food and architecture over the years — all kinds of little things that make certain overserious Finns go up in flames, and make great (even if meaningless) headlines.
Me — well, I’m not prone to patriotic furor and my sense of humor is so wide I can’t help seeing how funny this all is, especially the resulting storm of stern, humorless disapproval. There’s no malice in what Silvio says, I trust, and no harm unless someone decides it’s their place in life to throw a thor-awful tantrum over mere words. Amusement, I think, is in addition to free publicity all he’s going for: the image of an affable loudmouth.
As I said, I don’t know much anything about his politics and I think I would disagree with him about most things — but I would be a much happier person if there were more politicians with his temperament. Give me indiscreet buffoons over bland vacillators any day; if nothing else, liars with a sense of humor are more entertaining than those without.
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Edit: the word “player” — Yikes! Went to Urban Dictionary to check the “exact” meaning, and it is a lot harsher than I remembered, so to clarify — while sexism is silly and toxic (what? you thought I was some troglodyte?), I see little harm in ridiculous macho swagger. (“Dust off his playboy skills”, dear empty heavens!)