FROM POLITICS DAILY:
Things to watch for at the G8 summit:
Who will accompany Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who's hosting the affair?
Of course, "affair" is a shameless play on words, but Berlusconi's adventures are often a play on life. His latest escapades with women young enough to be his granddaughters could make for interesting socializing with the world leaders. And it will be one of those rare events where Barack Obama is overshadowed by another world leader.
That assumes they won't have to deal with an earthquake. For real. The Italian venue for the summit, L'Aquila, was the site of a killer quake last April that took nearly 300 lives. There was a jarring aftershock as recently as last Friday.
It prompts the question: Whose brilliant idea was it to hold the meetings in L'Aquila? You got it: Berlusconi.
Italian officials tell us they have an evacuation plan to rescue the heads of state if the walls start to collapse. That's reassuring.
Speaking of collapses, there's the world economy, which is where the focus is supposed to be.
President Obama will have to deal with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who will never be mistaken for the flamboyant Berlusconi. Miss Congeniality she's not. Merkel's been cool to pleadings for her country to ramp up stimulus spending.
iShe's still one of the brightest lights in the room.. The political situations of most others seated at the table are pretty dismal. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's standing back home is in the dumpster, as is that of his Japanese counterpart, Taro Aso.
The Chinese president, Hu Jintao, wasn't even able to show up. He cancelled his trip to deal with spreading ethnic violence in one of his country's western provinces.
Maybe he's lucky. At least he won't have to deal with the endless posturing about the world financial mess and the full soup-to-nuts discourse on other problems, from climate change to Iran. As I said, soup to nuts.
It's great theater: The suspense is provided by the fear of aftershocks at a location that's briefly become the world's epicenter, figuratively and literally. The comedy, naturally, is courtesy of the host, Berlusconi.
It wouldn't be at all surprising to find out that some of the other participants were thinking "Gee -- maybe I SHOULDN'T have had a G8."