I originally planned to write a post about Boris Johnson’s tactical retreat aka resignation from parliament. I had a title that’s worthy of repeating as well: Boris Johnson Has Left The Building For Now.
Then another European hate object up and died. Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of bunga bunga party infamy died at the age of 86. In a country in which Benito Mussolini ruled for 21 years, it’s impossible to call Silvio the worst PM ever but he was bad to the bone.
Both Berlusconi and Boris are wreckers. Boris has left the Tory Party in a shambles and Silvio helped bring to power the most right-wing PM since Il Duce stood on his balcony and bloviated.
Both Berlusconi and Boris brought disrepute on their respective body politics because of the contempt in which they held the norms of their countries. Italians are cynical about politics and politicians, but Silvio raised that cynicism to new heights. Boris was able to make David Cameron and The Maybot look positively Churchillian in contrast.
Both Berlusconi and Boris like to party. Silvio had his bunga bunga parties and Boris has Partygate, which is the scandal that brought him down.
Both Berlusconi and Boris lie easily, early, and often. Boris quit before he could be suspended and obliged to face a by-election for lying to the House of Commons. Silvio was convicted of corruption charges; not an easy feat in a country where another post-war PM, Giulio Andreotti, was owned by the Mafia.
There’s only one American politician who compares to Berlusconi and Boris. He’s being arraigned today in Miami.
The thread that connects Berlusconi, Boris, and Trump is right-wing populism. They all pretend to care about the masses while only caring about themselves. They share an addiction to bluster and bullshit, which demeans democratic norms and politics. The Tories are trying to exorcise the Boris demon whereas the GOP gives aid and comfort to the Indicted Impeached Insult Comedian.
The NYT’s very polite headline for Silvio’s obit calls him a “showman who upended Italian politics and culture.” Upended? Corroded is a better word. It fits Boris Johnson’s impact on British politics as well.
There’s another U word that fits Berlusconi and Boris: UNFIT. That goes for Federal Defendant Trump as well. I’ll take a whack at him later.
At the risk of sounding like Sue Grafton: B is not only for Berlusconi and Boris; it’s for bluster and bullshit.
The show is over. Populism never ends well. Bye Bye Berlusconi and Boris.
The last word goes to Michael Nesmith: