WASHINGTON, DC — Italy’s new far-right leader, Giorgia Meloni, has an ally in House Minority Whip Steve Scalise.
This week, in her first address to Parliament, Meloni downplayed the anti-LGBTQ, anti-immigrant and pro-“Christian values” agenda that helped propel her to the history books as Italy’s first female prime minister. While she has more than her share of critics, many diplomats across the globe have stuck to the ‘let’s wait and see’ approach with the newly minted leader who’s Italy’s most hard-right leader since Benito Mussolini helmed the country from 1922 through his deposition in 1943.
There’s not much of any hesitation to embrace her in the leadership ranks of today’s Republican Party.
Whip Scalise — who’s slated to slide up to majority leader if the GOP wins back the House in the coming weeks — isn’t worried about Meloni’s political training in Italy’s neo-fascist Youth Front, her party’s neo-fascist roots or how the party has refused to retire its historic tricolor flame logo, which, as noted by the BBC, is “often perceived as the fire burning on Mussolini's tomb.”
“I’m a little excited about her message. She’s run on a campaign of, kind of, standing up to this far-left wokeism and the anti-energy policies that are destroying a lot of European countries. Their energy costs are through the roof,” Scalise told Raw Story after her victory turned heads globally. “People got fed up. You know, Meloni ran on energy security but also border security because they have a big illegal immigration problem.”
To the eight-term Louisiana Republican, it’s only effusive praise for Italy’s new PM.
“To be the first female ever elected prime minister is a big deal, and to have somebody pushing back on that far-left agenda in Europe shows: It's happening in Europe, and it's going to happen in America on November 8th,” Scalise continued.
A lot’s changed in Europe in recent years. Brexit, nationalist leader Viktor Orbán’s squeezing the democracy out of Hungary, Sweden’s recent rightward U-turn — just to name a few seismic shifts abroad.
Domestically, Democrats lament how today’s Trump-dominated GOP has joined—or led, at points—the international march away from America’s founding aspirations of establishing an enduring representative republic. The rightward march has been normalized to lauded across the right’s diverse media landscape—ranging from talk radio to Gab, and everything in between—despite all the warning flags Democrats have vigorously waved in the Jan. 6 hearings, Trump’s second impeachment, and even his first.
When Raw Story informed current House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Whip Scalise’s high praise for Prime Minister Meloni — along with the majority-leader-in-waiting’s desire for the American right to join the resounding chorus of Europe’s new far-right come November — the veteran Maryland Democrat was almost downtrodden.
“Not surprising,” Hoyer said through a disappointed shake of his gray hair. “They’re for authoritarian, non-democratic government.”
Even as the Democratic leader’s thinking is now accepted as established fact on the left, it’s still an uncomfortable topic for some on the right. As the Republican Party has grown increasingly monolithic under Trump’s leadership in recent years, centrists have been marginalized to the point where they’ve, mostly, been primaried out of the party or they’ve resorted to muzzling themselves, along with the message of liberty and freedom the GOP once rallied around, rhetorically at least.
“Mr. Fitzpatrick,” I hollered to Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick — who represents competitive counties north of Philadelphia that end at the banks of the Delaware River, where New Jersey’s shores begin—just before Congress gaveled out until after the election. “What do you make of—you got any ideas on the new Italian Prime Minister?”
“No,” Fitzpatrick said as he hurried across the Capitol grounds on a lazy legislative day.
“I've been surprised to hear members of your party — Whip Scalise just praised her profusely — does it worry you?”
“No,” the perpetually embattled Republican intoned.
“Her praise of Mussolini? Ties to—being part of the fascist party? No?”
The former FBI agent shot a menacing glance to me and my microphone — a small handheld one he knows well from when I covered him for WHYY, Philadelphia’s NPR station — as he refused to utter another word near my mic.
“He’s your Whip,” I reminded one of the few remaining Republicans who publicly claims the mantle of ‘moderate’ these days, “and he was happy!”
Fitzpatrick wasn’t happy. His eyes flashed.
“Have a good one, sir,” I laughed.