World leaders smile and back-slap like old friends at summit meeting photo-ops. But behind the bonhomie they may be judging each other’s strengths and weaknesses with the brutal candor of high school students sizing up rivals.
Embattled Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi may soon lose political power, as his governing right-wing coalition seems close to collapse. So he has other things to worry about than how he is described by US diplomats – which may be a good thing, as the description of him in WikiLeaks cables is not positive.
Berlusconi – whose reputation as a playboy precedes him – is said in US dispatches to be someone whose “frequent late nights and penchant for partying hard mean he does not get sufficient rest.”
If that’s not bad enough, he is summed up as “feckless, vain, and ineffective as a modern European leader.”
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