Italy: Berlusconi, Take Three

When Italian President Giorgio Napolitano called for new elections on April 13, he set the stage for another episode of the Silvio Berlusconi show. If the 71-year-old former prime minister wins again—he's the front runner—he faces a new world, in which his reputation for sexist (he once invited foreign investors to consider Italy because of the beautiful secretaries) and racist (he called a German European Parliament member "kapo," slang for concentration-camp prisoner) comments could play badly with key allies. France has a new president whose new wife, Italian-born Carla Bruni, has denounced Il Cavaliere as an embarrassment to her native country. German Chancellor Angela Merkel shows little tolerance for Berlusconi's political buffoonery. Berlusconi may also have some bridge building to do with George W. Bush's successor, who could well be a woman or a black man. His trademark bravura won't help him here.