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Sat Jul 2, 2016, 05:03 PM

 

And from the homeland of my ancestors, a warning about Trump


USA TODAY

Italians to Americans: Beware of Trump-like candidates

Eric J. Lyman, Special for USA TODAY 5:03 p.m. EDT July 2, 2016

ROME — Speaking from hard-earned experience, Italians offer a warning to American voters: Think twice before electing Donald Trump.

That advice is based on the fact that Italy chose a Trump-like leader — and many later came to regret it.

Italy's version of Trump is Silvio Berlusconi, 79, the media tycoon who served as Italy’s prime minister four times, dating to 1994. The two men have much in common.

They are both billionaires who got their start in real-estate development and who came into politics as newcomers promising to use their business acumen to revitalize their country’s economy. Both are brash and self-confident with reputations as womanizers. Both blame much of their country’s woes on immigration. Both seem impervious to critiques and gaffes that would sink other political careers. They even share an obvious concern about their hair: Trump’s billowy coif is an integral part of his look, while Berlusconi admits to at least two hair transplants to cover up an expanding bald spot.

“For Italy watching the election in the U.S. gives us a sense of déjà vu,” said Gian Franco Gallo, a political affairs analyst with ABS Securities in Milan. “It’s like you’re rewatching a horror movie, and as the protagonist is about to get ambushed, you throw your hands up and scream at the screen, ‘Don’t go through that door!’ ”

That negative view stems from the fact that during Berlusconi's long tenure, which ended in 2011, Italy suffered prolonged periods of economic weakness, political corruption got worse, and Berlusconi became ensnared in sex scandals and legal troubles that included a wide range of charges, from false accounting and tax evasion to bribery and paying a minor for sex.

Today, Berlusconi, who is recovering from last month's heart surgery, is barred from holding office before 2019 because of his legal problems. Maria Rossi, co-director of Opinioni polls, said her polling finds fewer than one in seven Italians would still back him today.

“Every time I see Donald Trump, I think of Silvio Berlusconi,” said Stefano Matucci, 55, a restaurant manager. “I don’t say not to vote for him. In fact, I supported Berlusconi for a while. But if you do vote for someone like that, understand what you get. Silvio always did what was best for Silvio. I think Trump is probably the same.”

Alan Friedman, a U.S. journalist who wrote a popular biography of Berlusconi and has interviewed Trump, calls Berlusconi "the second-most influential Italian leader of the last hundred years, after (wartime fascist leader Benito) Mussolini.”

“He transformed Italian politics,” Friedman said. “But in the end, he will be remembered much more for his scandals than for his achievements.”

Berlusconi’s high-profile sex antics — he coined the term “bunga bunga” to refer to sex soirees he hosted involving scores of teenage women and powerful, older men — made Italy the butt of jokes around the world.

In April, Il Fatto Quotidiano, an influential newspaper, said in an editorial that, Trump, like Berlusconi, is a threat because he is “a parasite that destroys the political establishment through the use of self-marketing and advertising techniques.”

Gallo, the analyst, agreed: “In a way, Italy has always looked to comparatively orderly elections in the U.S. as something to strive for,” he said. “I think it’s a bit confusing that the Americans are considering the same kind of error Italy already made: voting for a seductive demagogue like Trump.”

Some rank-and-file Italians say they recognize Trump’s charms but are not seduced by them.

"There might have been a time when I would have liked Trump, and it’s true he can be charming,” said Barbara Conti, 78, a retired schoolteacher. “But that doesn’t work on me anymore. I supported Berlusconi and ended up losing part of my pension by being forced to retire early. When you get taken advantage of by one con man, you can see the next one coming 100 steps away.”

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Reply And from the homeland of my ancestors, a warning about Trump (Original post)
louis c Jul 2016 OP
Bernardo de La Paz Jul 2016 #1
ArtD48 Jul 2016 #2
phazed0 Jul 2016 #3
CaptainTruth Jul 2016 #4
Surya Gayatri Jul 2016 #5

Response to louis c (Original post)

Sat Jul 2, 2016, 05:58 PM

1. Psychopaths are noted for their ability to be charming. . . nt

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Response to louis c (Original post)

Sat Jul 2, 2016, 06:53 PM

2. Good advice but I think . . .

. . . people smart enough to learn from the mistakes of others wouldn't be voting for T rump in the first place.

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Response to louis c (Original post)

Sat Jul 2, 2016, 07:52 PM

3. I'm afraid our 'choice' and options have been too severely limited. nt

 

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Response to louis c (Original post)

Sat Jul 2, 2016, 08:11 PM

4. My wife is Italian & she's said many times Trump reminds her of Berlusconi.

One main difference between the two, according to her (& she lived in Italy under Berlusconi), is that Berlusconi was actually an accomplished businessman. He really did know how to run a business & make it profitable, unlike Trump, who has failed (at business) as often as he's succeeded, & who couldn't even run a successful casino (when most casinos make millions a day).

So in that regard, Trump is even WORSE than Berlusconi. Trump is just ... clueless.


And as a total side note, many people I know dread visiting their in-laws, but when your in-laws live in Italy ... it's really not so bad. I'm happy to visit them every year ...

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Response to louis c (Original post)

Sun Jul 3, 2016, 03:06 PM

5. "When you get taken advantage of by one con man, you can see the next one coming 100 steps away.”

 

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