- By Cara Parks
Cara Parks is deputy managing editor at Foreign Policy. Prior to that she was the World editor at the Huffington Post. She is a graduate of Bard College and the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, and has written for The New Republic, Interview, Radar, and Publishers Weekly, among others.
It’s often said that politics makes strange bedfellows. Leave it to Silvio Berlusconi, the scandal-ridden former premier of Italy, to make the platitude uncomfortably literal.
Thanks to an ongoing trial centering around whether or not Berlusconi paid for sex in 2010 with then-underage prostitute Karima El Mahroug, a Moroccan woman who attended Berlusconi’s infamous "bunga-bunga" parties, new details are still emerging about the Bacchanalian festivals at the ex-leader’s vacation home in Arcore, an Italian town outside of Milan. The latest salacious detail? That one of Berlusconi’s attendees, a beautiful Dominican woman named Marysthell Polanco, dressed up as U.S. President Barack Obama to entertain guests at what Berlusconi has described as "elegant dinners," Reuters is reporting.
"I dressed up as Boccassini [a female prosecutor in the trial against Berlusconi] with a toga to make him laugh, and also as Obama," Polanco told the Italian court on Friday.
For his part, Berlusconi, who was recently spotted at Vladimir Putin’s inauguration, denies all wrong-doing. We can only assume that he is longing for the days when his biggest gaffe with Obama was repeatedly describing him as "suntanned."
Berlusconi was forced to resign in November 2011 amid the scandal and Italy’s economic woes, ending 17 years in Italian political life (incidentally, making his political career the same age as El Mahroug’s was when Berlusconi allegedly paid her for intercourse).
Since then, Italy’s technocratic new leader Mario Monti has steered the country through tough austerity cuts, maneuvered through a delicate European political situation as Greece’s economy has unraveled, and discussed the importance of European growth with Obama at Camp David without even once making a racially charged remark. He is also, it should be noted, not part of an ongoing investigation over whether or not he paid for sex with a teenage girl.