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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Measured... and found wanting

In my humble opinion, the true measure of a politician is to what extent he or she is willing to set aside personal ambition in favor of the greater good of the country. 

Late this past week President Shimon Peres accepted the recommendations of the majority of parties (not to mention the overwhelmingly lopsided mathematical edge held by right wing parties) and appointed Benjamin (Bibi) Natanyahu to form the next government of Israel.

Given that Kadima leader Tzipi Livni is now refusing outright to sit with Likud in a unity government, this leaves one to wonder what might constitute the 'greater good' of the country as seen from Kadima's vantage point; a narrow right wing government or broad national unity government?

Clearly, one would think that Livni would value a broad unity government.  But her personal ambition for the premiership is so all-encompassing that since the election she has expressed the following, increasingly detached from reality statements:

"The people have spoken and Kadima will be chosen to form the next government of Israel".  This despite having no mathematical possibility of forming a coalition without both Likud and Israel Beiteinu... two parties with whom she now refuses to sit.

"The only way we will agree to sit in a unity government with Likud is with Kadima as the the senior partner (i.e. with Livni as Prime Minister).  We call on the Likud join with us for the greater good of the country".

"We will only agree to sit in a unity government with Likud if they agree to a rotation system (whereby the two parties will take turns holding the premiership).  We call upon the Likud to join us for the greater good of the country".

When it became increasingly clear that, not only would no party but her own endorse Livni to form the next government, and that President Peres would be all but certain to give Bibi the nod, suddenly the greater good of the nation became secondary to her own ambitions:

"A broad coalition is worthless if it is not governed by values.  A likud-led government will be both narrow and extreme and there is nothing for us to look for there."   One can assume from the timing that by 'values' she means her own values and no others.

In a country filled with self-interested politicians, Livni has shown us a new low-water mark in self-interest... a grimy ring in an increasingly dirty bathtub.  Her childish obstinacy at this precarious juncture in Israel's history is especially telling in light of the recent push from within even her own party to join a Likud-led unity government. 

On the one hand, her unwillingness to accept even the number two spot (and as many portfolios as she might demand) is a tacit admission that pretty much all decisions in this country are made by the Prime Minister (democracy?  what democracy?!).  But even more troubling is the unavoidable revelation that her personal aspirations come well before the 'good of the country' she has been on about for so long... and even before the will of her own party.

Personally, I would rather see Meretz sitting in the government (not that their 3 seats would help much) than a Livni-led Kadima. As much as I abhor Meretz's inexplicable love affair with failed (and dangerous) policies, at least they were/are true to their party's ideals and genuinely want the best for the country above all else.  The loss of Meretz's Zahava Gal-On from the Knesset (after she offered her #3 spot to someone else as a gesture of respect) is truly the loss of one of the more principled and conscientious law-makers.  That is more than anyone will be able to say about Tzipi Livni when enough people finally wake up and toss her out of politics.

Where once I was almostswayed by the argument that Bibi and Barak had had their chance as PM and it was now time to let Livni have a chance... it is eminently clear that we have been saved from a lengthy and costly experiment in self-indulgence.  Without the need to see what sort of prime ministerial stuff she was made of, Tzipi Livni has already been measured... and has been found wanting.

Posted by David Bogner on February 22, 2009 | Permalink


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i still dont understand why leiberman is considered right. on the only issue which seems to make up right or left in the country [forget religion/state, fiscal responsibilities, etc.], he is as much right as left, being equally willing to move both jews and arabs.
...and what point in our country's history has *not* been precarious?

Posted by: fred | Feb 22, 2009 2:25:56 PM

Well, if nothing else, this may be the first time in his political career that Shimon Peres did the right thing. Not that he had much of a choice, but still...

Posted by: psachya | Feb 23, 2009 7:26:38 PM

Livni can talk tough,but I`m not impressed by her actions as a Minister.I have a feeling her decision on refusing to yield on coaltion will turn off enough of the Kadima MK`s to split the party within 6 months. After all most of them are in it for ambition rather than any principle.

Posted by: Ed | Feb 24, 2009 6:24:20 AM

I'm not sure why you are so upset about Livni. No matter how you look at it, what she is doing is good for the country, whether she sees it that way or not. If you couldn't tell, I think she does NOT belong in he government.

Posted by: Observer | Feb 25, 2009 7:33:19 AM

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