Italy, that European land of infamous sex drives and smoldering men, is in the midst of its own David Vitter-like political scandal. Cosimo Mele, a member of Italy's staunchly Catholic UDC party (which, much like American Republicans, proclaims to carry the 'family values' banner), was recently caught with his pants down. Mele spent a now much-publicized night in a lavish hotel suite with two hookers (one of whom ended up in the hospital) and a hefty stash of cocaine. But, as could seemingly only happen in Italy, Mele's party is now proposing to put a stop to such shenanigans through a tax-payer funded allowance which would underwrite trips to the Italian capital for lawmakers' wives, thereby eliminating the need for prostitutes and promoting the "reunification of the family."
High Politics in Rome
Mr. Mele, of course, says he had no idea that his companions were hookers, and justified his five-star hotel romp by explaining that - alas - he "had been alone for five days." (One can only wonder what Mr. Mele would have done after a full week of solitary living.) Much like his American counterpart from Louisiana, he also immediately called his wife to his front door, but in a twist almost too absurd to fathom, asked Italian taxpayers to pay her trip to his stoop.
Now, the Italian family values crowd has hatched a plan to keep their pants zipped. Call it political conjugal visits to the capital, or government-funded fidelity, but don't dare try to trivialize the longing of the Italian heart. (David Vitter should be so lucky to have such poetic answers for the press.)
"Loneliness," said Lorenzo Cesa, the secretary of the UDC, "is a very serious thing." And as such, the Italian people may now be asked to underwrite the bill for spousal travel to the capital . . . cocaine, one assumes, probably not included.
And remember, this is coming from the Italian political party that condemns divorce, rallies against gay rights and cozies up to the Pontiff.
Franco Grillini, a gay activist and Member of the Italian Parliament, commented in the Financial Times that, "Only in Italy do we have divorced political leaders who are against divorce, leaders with a collection of mistresses who go and demonstrate at the Family Day, and now we have another type, the whore monger moralist."
Unfortunately, Grillini, its only the solution here, and not the problem, that is uniquely Italian. Indeed, there seems to be an epidemic of right-wing politicos with faulty zippers in virtually every corner of the globe. But you have to give the boys in Rome credit where credit is due: At least they can make their flings seem like the stuff of Antonioni and Fellini, whereas the lawmakers stateside come across as nothing more than Bourbon Street frat boys, too embarrassed to admit their own loneliness and too inarticulate to talk about it like poets. After all, if you're going to put your hypocrisy on full frontal display, you might as well do it with five-star amenities and Dante-like proclamations of your heart's desires.