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Our Italian Future

Atop a political volcano.

Mar 11, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 25 • By MICHAEL LEDEEN
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The other big losers include President Obama, who warmly welcomed Italian president Giorgio Napolitano to Washington a few days before the vote and spoke enthusiastically about the great accomplishments of the “technicians’ government” that had been installed last year in an amazing move that produced a council of ministers in which nobody had been elected to anything. It was headed by the biggest loser of all, the economist and former European commissioner Mario Monti, who got barely more than 10 percent of last month’s vote. The establishment had hoped that Monti’s parliamentarians, plus Bersani’s, would produce a strong majority, but the Italians were fed up with higher taxes in exchange for fewer services and fewer jobs, especially for young people. The street wit about Monti said it all: “He even looks like an undertaker.”

But nobody can match Angela Merkel’s opponent in the next German elections for sheer buffoonery. When asked to comment on Italy, Social Democrat Peer Steinbrück said that “two clowns won,” one of whom “would not be offended to be called that,” while the other is “definitively a clown with a high testosterone level.” This remark caused President Napolitano to cancel his scheduled dinner with Steinbrück in Berlin, but at least had the merit of identifying a third clown on the northern side of the Alps.

So whither Italy? If you’re superstitious—as Italians tend to be—the most dramatic augury for the immediate future came from Naples. There’s a volcanic area known as the Phlegraean Fields, where the ground is hot, and sulphurous smoke emerges from fissures. The ancient Romans had no doubt that Hell lay beneath. The National Vulcanological Institute just confirmed that, since the beginning of the year, the ground of the Phlegraean Fields has been rising by more than a centimeter a month.

There’s going to be Hell to pay.

Michael Ledeen is the Freedom Scholar at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and author, most recently, of Virgil’s Golden Egg and Other Neapolitan Miracles.

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