Lately, I've been noticing some strong similarities between Silvio Burlusconi and Bibi Netanyahu, similarities that go well beyond having egos inflated well beyond Hindenburg size.
Both, of course, pretend to be populists — but both, more likely, are just playing to the base. (Oh, and how base the base tends to be.) Berlusconi, who just could not stay out of politics, is pretending to be outraged by Mario Monti's austerity programs. It's just bullshit, of course. No matter how austere the Italian economy becomes, Berlusconi will continue to have all the underage girls he desires, and staying in the Italian parliament will keep him immune from all those criminal charges.
(Personally, I think all the European austerity measures are idiotic, but for real reasons — not Berlusconi's. If they just would kick the Germans out of the Eurozone, they could devalue the Euro and escape the biggest problems. Nobody would be hurt but the banks — and fuck them.)
On to Netanyahu, another alleged "populist." He's been playing the "existential threat" angle for so long, he might believe it, but I doubt that too. He is entirely aware that any American president — even one whose middle name is Hussein — will pull Israel's nuts out of the fire in the event of any real threat. Most important to him is holding together his governing coalition of right wing extremists and religious bigots.
Also, both leaders benefit by the inability of their respective countries' leftists to get their acts together. Needless to say, though, there's a lot of that going around.