Friday, January 18, 2013

All That Is Fitting ...

Ex-Communist PD candidate Bersani can name his party the 'Democrats' and promise all he wants to support the ECB line of 'reforms.' He's still a socialist or worse in the eyes of ... the tiny handful of Americans who know his name, which may explain the pains he took to strike a moderate, reasonable pose in last Sunday's Washington Post, and a previous interview with the Wall St. Journal. His campaign video pointedly pictures him with the un-intimidating Fran├žois Hollande, and he has made overtures to the autarchs in Brussels and Frankfurt--all in a pointed effort not to frighten the financial class with the specter of a left-wing Italian government.

But if such is his intention, the big prize has so far eluded him:recognition by the Global Paper of Record, the NYTimes. This was poignantly displayed yesterday as the Times devoted rare column space to the Italian election. Rome correspondent Rachel Donadio treated readers to news of senescent buffoon Silvio Berlusconi's "rakish, retro" fedora, and recited his antics on Michele Santoro's recent TV broadcast. She expressed the appropriate regret for Mario Monti's less than galvanizing campaign, and noted the (dubious) threat of Beppe Grillo's anti-political M5S. What Donadio failed to do, though, was to note that all polls show Bersani's Democrats as odds-on favorites to win the election and elect him premier. In fact she didn't even mention his name. That's right: a rare feature story on the election didn't include the name of the front-runner, much less report on the curious machinations of various left-of-center political figures. That is, she completely failed to discuss the actual shape of the probable government to come. 

Does this matter? Considering the still-hegemonic role of Washington and the dollar in international finance, and the hyper-sensitivity of Italy's political class to its delinquent reputation--personified by Berlusconi--I'd say yes, it does. Bersani is clearly hoping to achieve legitimacy for his prospective government, and with it the reduced borrowing costs that will make governing possible. For whatever reason, and perhaps without meaning to do so, Donadio's "memo from Rome" suggested he was beneath the notice of the Times's readers, and in that gesture she made his job a little harder.


At January 18, 2013 at 10:03 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this one. Donadio has been publishing her myopic view of Italy for a long time now. The Times keeps publishing it on its news pages, whereas it belongs side by side with Thomas Friedman's op ed page columns.

American readers of the Times are poorly served by its coverage of Italy. Thank you for saying it clearly.


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