Berlusconi Under Fire for Obama 'Joke'By Rachel Donadio
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi did it again.
Meeting in Moscow on Thursday, Mr. Berlusconi told Russian President Dmitri Medvedev that President-elect Barack Obama "has all the qualities to get along well with you: he's young, handsome and suntanned, so I think you can develop a good working relationship."
Italy's leading daily, Corriere della Sera, ran a video of the scene.
The leader of the center-left opposition, Walter Veltroni, said Mr. Berlusconi's remarks "seriously damage the image and dignity of our country on the international scene," Corriere della Sera reported. Mr. Veltroni — who has been called the Obama of Italy, except that he lost the election – added that such "cabaret one-liners" showed a "lack of respect" unworthy of a statesman.
He called on Mr. Berlusconi "to offer official apologies."
But Mr. Berlusconi said the remark had been all in fun: "Are there really people who don't understand it was a cute thing to say?" he said, according to Corriere. Adding: "God save us from imbeciles. How can you take such a great compliment negatively?"