Will Italy’s leader fall to Trump’s hate contagion?

The Daily Beast reports: Less than a month ago, Matteo Renzi was floating on air. Fresh off the pages of Vogue, and still glowing from the limelight for being honored at President Barack Obama’s last state dinner, the maverick Italian prime minister seemed to have the world at his feet. “This is my last visit and state dinner as president,” Obama said as he introduced Renzi. “We saved the best for last.”

And it couldn’t have come at a better time as Renzi prepares to lead his country forward in a crucial Dec. 4 reform referendum that is easily the make-or-break moment of his career. Having Obama throw him a party and endorse his cause was extremely useful back home.

“The upcoming referendum to modernize Italy’s political institutions is something the United States strongly supports because we believe that it will help accelerate Italy’s path toward a more vibrant, dynamic economy, as well as a more responsive political system,” Obama said at a joint press conference with a visibly delighted Renzi gushing enthusiasm. “And so I am rooting for success, but I think [Renzi] should hang around for awhile no matter what.”

Fast-forward to Nov. 8. All that fairy dust Obama sprinkled now surely feels a little bit like poison ivy. Renzi, like pretty much the rest of the world, was expecting Hillary Clinton to win the presidential race. But he was one of the few world leaders to say it out loud. “I’m rooting for Hillary,” he first said last February, adding that, despite his endorsement, he would work with whoever is inaugurated in January 2017. [Continue reading…]

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