The happy nights of Italy's Premier Silvio Berlusconi, now documented in hot recordings taken by Escort Patrizia D'Addario, have by now circled the free world (in Italy they are only available to readers of a couple of newspapers allegedly "hostile to the government", Repubblica and L'Espresso). Together with the parties in his Sardinian villa, where scores of starlets and easy girls were allegedly invited to cheer up the leader and his occasional guests, or the rendez-vous in a wellness center closed to everybody else for the occasion, where Berlusconi allegedly met with at least three other call girls, the story paints a sort of fin-de-siecle portrait of a seventy-three-year-old man who would not accept his physical decline, and who uses his moneys, power, and influence to get laid by the most beautiful girls available on the market.

I am not surprised, nor scandalized. Those girls are all over eighteen and capable to judge (well, maybe not, but that is besides the point). Prostitution in Italy is punishable, but often allowed and very seldom prosecuted actively, although Berlusconi's government recently tightened the grip with a law punishing the clients with hefty fines. As for the exploitatioin of prostitution, this is a more serious crime, but there is probably no ground for moving such charges to Berlusconi.

What Italy's Premier should be accused of, however, is of constantly, systematically, consistently lying to his country. He, and his faithful lawyer Niccolo' Ghedini, appear to apply a well-oiled method aimed at weathering any mediatic storm. First a strong denial, corroborated by counter-accusations (of conspiracies, of being the target of left-wing judges, or even vengeange by Rupert Murdoch); then, when it becomes harder to deny, a muddling of waters, and an orderly retreat on more defensible positions (Ghedini in one occasion said that even if D'Addario had sex with Berlusconi, he would be the "final user" and not punishable if somebody else had paid for the girl). If the need arises, some mild concessions ("I am not a saint", Berlusconi admitted recently), without confirming anything concrete but not denying anything any longer either.

Berlusconi's strongest Maginot line is consensus. Whenever he is pressed, he claims that Italians are with him, so what is the matter with all this fuss ? He continues to claim that two thirds of Italians are happy about him -although independent polls have shown a fast and constant decline from the admittedly sky-high appreciation ratings he had this spring.

The thing is, what too many of my fellow countrymen do not realize is that the very same method of systematic lies has been consistently used for much more important questions in the course of the last 15 years. The guy is a professionist. One cannot help thinking that we will soon be forced to rewrite the old saying "You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time" (is it by Abraham Lincoln?). Maybe, Berlusconi will manage to fool a whole country until he dies. I hope not for long.

So, while I think that although pathetic, Berlusconi's private sex life is private and such should remain, I also hope it will be the means by which he eventually is kicked out of the political scene in Italy. I hope so, but I do not see it happening... Yet. Today, the newspaper of Italian bishops, L'Avvenire, published a very hard comment on the matter. Shall we have to hope for the Vatican to help us out of this embarassing situation ?