Jun
05

I miss Giulio and I didn’t even know him

By
Giulio Andreotti in 1991.

Giulio Andreotti in 1991.

I waited to tell you the bad news about Giulio Andreotti’s demise because I didn’t want my blog to turn into the obituary column.  He entered the better life on May 6, and although he was 94, which means it was far beyond inevitable, I’m sorry he’s gone.

His CV tells you that he was important, among other reasons, because he was: Prime Minister (7 times), Minister of Defense (8 times), Minister of Foreign Affairs (5 times), Minister of Finance, Minister of the Budget, Minister of Industry (two times each), and Minister of the Treasury and Minister of the Interior one time each.

No need to ask what he did in his spare time — he couldn’t have had any.  But if he’d ever written a book about his career, hardly anybody would have been left standing.

You need to know the above to have the rudiments of appreciation of what a master he was of the scintillating quip.  First, he was Roman, and that gave him a huge headstart in the witticism department.  While every region, town, hamlet must have its own type of humor, the Roman type is famously quick and piercingly irreverent.

Second, being a career politician meant that he had endless occasions for practicing his exceptional talent for quippery.  Essentially he was Minister of Himself.

So it’s in that spirit that I offer you this glimpse of one of the pillars of 20th-century Italian politics.  People who know more about it, him, or them, please don’t enlighten me.  I want you to see his best side here.  By which I don’t mean his turned back.

One of the many pages devoted to him on May 7, 2013.

One of the many pages devoted to him on May 7, 2013.

From top to bottom, more or less, are the following observations:

Power wears out the people who don’t have it.

The wickedness of good people is extremely dangerous.

I know that I’m just of average height, but I don’t see any giants around me.

In politics there are more Draculas than there are blood donors.

It’s not enough to be right, you’ve got to have somebody who recognizes it.

Apart from the Punic Wars, they attribute everything to me.

Crazy people can be divided into two groups: Those who believe they’re Napoleon, and those who believe they can reorganize the state railway.

Humility is an amazing virtue, but not when it you use it in declaring your income.

You should always tell the truth, but except in the courtroom don’t ever tell the whole truth.  It’s inconvenient and often causes pain.

I love Germany so much that I preferred two of them.

Being men of the middle class, the middle road is, for us, the most congenial.

I’m posthumous to myself. (This is the literal translation, but even Lino can’t make me understand what he meant.)

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments

  1. Steven says:

    I hope you’ll pardon me if I write of something other than “the good side” of Andreotti, but I find it hard not to mention for those of your readers who might be interested that this late great wit was convicted of conspiring with the mafia boss Gaetano Badalamenti to murder an investigative journalist and also, more broadly, for concrete collaboration with the mafia over many many years.

    Italy’s Supreme Court overturned the murder conviction in 2004, but it upheld the lower court’s conviction of concrete collaboration with the mob. Though only until the year of 1980, just a little over 22 years before the decision was handed down and, hence (in a shocking coincidence!), just barely beyond the statute of limitations.

  2. Erla says:

    As my uncle used to say, I don’t mind somebody calling the balls and strikes, just as long as they keep them straight. If I’d wanted to write anything meaningful about him, I’d have studied up. I was only attracted by the quips. I’m sorry the quips aren’t amusing because he did all those things. Thanks for filling in the picture.