Solid Gold Soul
September 28, 2009
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PRIME MINISTER STEPS OVER THE LINE AGAIN
Italian Prime Minister and Obamas
Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi, a man well known for his gaffes, has done it again, and this time he has turned his sights on Michelle Obama.
His most recent blunder comes after the controversy he caused when he attempted to complement Barack Obama on his election victory and described him as “young, handsome, and even has a good tan.”
At a rally in Milan yesterday he also “complimented” Michelle Obama’s tan.
Berlusconi has caused a stir with inappropriate remarks frequently in the past.
Among his greatest hits: In 2002, he raised eyebrows after saying, “Rasmussen [then Danish Prime Minister] is the most handsome prime minister in Europe. I’m thinking of introducing him to my wife,” and in 2003, he sparked uproar in the European Parliament when he compared the German socialist, Martin Schulz, to a Nazi.
Then, throughout the summer of 2009, he was entangled in a series of public sex scandals.
These and other high-profile foibles have given Berlusconi a controversial reputation.
This may have led First Lady Michelle Obama to exercise a degree of caution at the recent G-20 summit in Pittsburgh last Thursday. Though she greeted many other world leaders with a kiss, including P.M. Gordon Brown, when she reached Berlusconi she held out a stiff arm for a hand shake.
The First Lady’s reluctance may have struck a nerve with the Italian P.M.
Upon returning home from the summit on Sunday, Berlusconi told a group of his conservative supporters that he brought greetings from “What’s his name? Some tanned guy. Ah, Barack Obama!”
He went on to include Mrs. Obama in his remarks. “You wouldn’t believe it, but they go sunbathing on the beach together — his wife is also sun-tanned.”
According to the Telegraph, Berlusconi did not mean to offend the Obamas and said, “His rapport with America’s first black president was ‘easy-going’ and described Mr. Obama as a ‘fine man’ with a good sense of irony.”
Despite his supposedly innocent intentions, Berlusconi’s latest gaffe has generated mixed reviews from Italian residents.
One Roman told the Associated Press that he believes Berlusconi “is deeply racist but he doesn’t want to say it.”
In contrast, a Congolese man in Rome commented that, “We need to joke, laugh together about who we are without looking for tensions. So I believe Berlusconi is fine.”
Regardless of the Italian people’s divergent reactions, Berlusconi has blundered yet again on the world stage.
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