OFF THE GRID

Berlusconi Strikes Back

Dec 17, 09 | 9:20 AM   byMichael Wolff
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Some people have all the luck.

Or, some people, familiar with adversity and reversals of fortune, know merely to wait until someone else hands you a trump card.

Silvio Berlusconi, struck rudely and brutally in the face with a souvenir statue, is turning the tables on his critics. All Silvio bashing is now the work of anti-social elements.

With his huge fortune and control of his country’s media monopoly, not to mention his political charm and acumen, Berlusconi is as powerful a head of state as few have ever been in a democracy. Yet even here, his arrogance—of a kind perhaps never seen in the media age—has meant a steady drip-drip erosion of credibility and story. Having leveled his opposition, and insured his longevity with crass and artful manipulations of the judicial system, his fate still seemed to be sealed by his own excesses: clownish ignominy, if not prison.

But now he’s saved. Again.

People of extremes invite extremes. These extremes, which ought to doom them, save them. The poor fool who heaved the tchotchke at Silvio’s head has made it possible for the prime minister to bash his enemies with the greater righteousness.

Oy.

It is not just his political opponents who are to be reviled, but much of modern life—or that part of modern life not controlled by the prime minister. Facebook, with its ever-growing anti-Berlusconi groups, is the anarchic enemy, and the government is now saying it will block social-networking websites. The Internet itself, that new medium beyond the grasp of Berlusconi’s old media empire, must, according to Berlusconi officials, be brought under control, to avoid a “dangerous spiral of emulation.”

For Berlusconi, getting hit in the face is a personal 9/11, justifying an operatic response. The very nature of the attack, the humiliation of a bloody nose and broken teeth, means he’ll have to respond with a disproportionate defense to reclaim his manhood.

And, of course, it affords him yet another chance to demonstrate his indomitable spirit—and penchant for cosmetic work—when he returns to public life with a refurbished smile and sculpted nose: the hero, bowed, but not broken.

Sheesh.

More of Newser founder Michael Wolff's articles and commentary can be found at VanityFair.com, where he writes a regular column. He can be emailed at michael@newser.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: www.twitter.com/NewserColumns.
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OFF THE GRID is about why the news is the news. Here are the real motivations of both media and newsmakers. Here's the backstory. This is a look at the inner workings of desperate media, the inner life of the publicity crazed, and the true meaning of the news of the day.

 

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