President Barack Obama used an interview with the Milan daily Corriere della Sera to counter his reputation for being indifferent toward Europe, and even anti-European. Relations between the Obama White House and Europe are worse than those of any recent American administration. But from what Obama told Paolo Valentino, the paper's respected Washington correspondent, it's nothing personal:
Many Italians -- who regard Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi as a national embarrassment and a bit of a con man, while continuing to vote for him -- will certainly disagree with Obama's assessment that they are "fortunate to have an excellent prime minister." But Obama's kind words reflect the fact that, whatever his faults, Berlusconi has for years been America's most consistent European ally, anteing up troops for Iraq and Afghanistan undeterred by strong domestic opposition to both wars.