Mona Charen

Not only is the trash an aesthetic and health offense, it deepens the corruption of the city. The companies that collect trash are thoroughly infiltrated by the Camorra, as the Neapolitan branch of the mafia is called. City dumps reached capacity a decade ago, so the city has pronounced yearly states of emergency since then. Under the states of emergency, CNN reports, the normal contracting oversight is dispensed with, and Camorra gets the lucrative contracts. The criminals then fail to clear the trash and deal with complaints and competition in time-honored wise-guy fashion. The Camorra is said to earn more than a billion dollars a year from "waste management."

Silvio Berlusconi is from the bustling northern Italian city of Milan. A billionaire with a higher-than-average self-regard ("I am the Jesus Christ of politics"), the black-haired septuagenarian has been plagued by conflict of interest charges. His previous record on economic reform was tepid, and as for his diplomatic skills, well At the close of the 2003 EU summit he pronounced, "Let's talk about footfall and women." He then turned to the four-times-married German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and said, "Gerhard, why don't you start?" Regarding his own flexible ethical standards, Berlusconi explained, "If I, taking care of everyone's interests, also take care of my own, you can't talk about a conflict of interest."

Such is the man who now bestrides Italian politics. His quirky egomania seems ill-suited to the grownup job of governing. The trash in Naples is the test. If he can clean that up and take down the Camorra, he will deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as Rudolph Giuliani.

Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
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