- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating is associate editor at Foreign Policy and the editor of the Passport blog. He has worked as a researcher, editorial assistant, and deputy Web editor since joining the FP staff in 2007. In addition to being featured in Foreign Policy, his writing has been published by the Washington Post, Newsweek International, Radio Prague, the Center for Defense Information, and Romania's Adevarul newspaper. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN International, C-Span, ABC News, Al Jazeera, NPR, BBC radio, and others. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he studied comparative politics at Oberlin College.
Here’s Italian President Silvio Berlusconi’s underaged girl scandal #4,080:
At the heart of it all is a Moroccan girl nicknamed Ruby, who turned 18 on Monday, but was still a minor last May when she was held in a police station in Milan, accused of theft until Mr. Berlusconi called and demanded she be released, Italian newspapers reported.
The details of what happened that night are now in the cross hairs of Milanese prosecutors, who must determine whether laws were broken or procedures ignored when Ruby was placed into the custody of Nicole Minetti, a former showgirl and Mr. Berlusconi’s dental hygienist. In March, Ms. Minetti was elected to the regional assembly in Lombardy as a candidate of the prime minister’s People of Freedom Party….
During the past week, Ruby’s accounts of parties at Mr. Berlusconi’s private villa outside Milan have turned mainstream newspapers into the trashiest of tabloids.
Prosecutors are said to be wary of the outlandish descriptions of sexual activities that Ruby said took place during what she called “bunga-bunga” parties, a term that has now spawned several You Tube spoofs by popular Italian comedians. Ruby has also said she received money and presents from the prime minister. Mr. Berlusconi has discounted these accounts as “trash."
Berlusconi doesn’t deny that he sent an aide to secure the girl’s release, claiming, "I’m a person of the heart, and I take action whenever there is someone in need of help." Some Italian media have reported that the president may have told police (incorrectly) that Ruby was the granddaughter of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
This clearly isn’t good. And in any normal country it would probably be enough to force the president to resign, as parliamentary speaker and Berlusconi opponent Gianfranco Fini now says he should. But Berlusconi’s survived so many of these scandals already that I feel like the marginal impact of new revelations is swiftly diminishing. Most people already imagine that Berlusconi’s personal life resembles a Felliniesuqe orgy of prurience and corruption. Fini and his allies are going to have to try a new approach if they’re going to put an end to all the bunga-bunga.