Not surprising, with Jonathan Weisman on the beat:
A Dig at Berlusconi?: Jonathan Weisman reports from L’Aquila, Italy: President Barack Obama had only been in Italy for a few hours before tongues began wagging over a perceived snub from the U.S. president to Italy’s colorful and embattled prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi.
In Rome just after noon, Obama stood next to the serious, elderly president of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano, a former Italian Communist Party leader, and praised him highly as a man “who has the admiration of the Italian people.” That admiration stems not just from the 84-year-old’s lifetime of service, the U.S. president continued, but because of “his integrity.”
“I had heard of the wonderful reputation of President Napolitano as somebody who has the admiration of the Italian people not only for his longstanding service but also his integrity, and his graciousness,” Obama said. “And I just want to confirm everything I have heard about him is true.”
With Berlusconi enmeshed in scandal over a teenager and alleged call girls caught on tape partying with the prime minister, Obama may not make mention of integrity when he meets the host of the summit of the Group of Eight leading economies here this afternoon.
But then again, the gregarious Berlusconi, always a showman for the cameras, isn’t likely to hold it against Obama.
Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?