Deflated Tartarina

Esterina Tartman grew quiet yesterday. The arrogant, racist MK, with the bullying voice who so loved to strike at ministers and her Knesset colleagues, remained "sealed" at home and refused to answer the telephone.

Her curriculum vitae shrank before our astonished eyes. The chances that she will now be appointed minister of tourism also shrank; she will either give up on her own, or Avigdor Lieberman will make her an offer that she will not be able to refuse. Or Ehud Olmert will say: Enough! A government is not a circus! Or, the Knesset will not authorize her appointment.

Tartman's silence is an encouraging sign. It seems she has run out of excuses.

Following the report of Amnon Abramovich on Channel 2 regarding her limited stamina to work, she offered some dubious explanation. As for the "no graduate degree" story published in Yedioth Aharonoth, she argued it was all a mistake.

Yesterday, when it became clear that she also lacks a bachelor's degree, there were those who suggested she bring up that traffic accident again and argue that the blow she suffered, affecting "her ability to concentrate and remember," explains her confusion and lack of orientation on her academic degrees.

It may sound funny, but in this strange world, Tartman may adopt this idea and sue for further compensation. Perhaps she will seek damages for emotional anguish. If the idea that Tartman would become a minister seemed embarrassing to bizarre at the start of the week, today it is simply shameful.

In a rational country, such an appointment would have long since become ancient history, if suggested at all.

In Yisrael Beiteinu, there are two experienced MKs: Israel Hasson, former deputy head of the Shin Bet, and retired Israel Police Major General Yitzhak Aharonovich, formerly the deputy chief of police. Each of them is a 100 times more worthy of serving as a minister, or even as chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee, but they are not part of Lieberman's clique. He used them to decorate his party slate with two impressive individuals. Perhaps this latest farce will lead to something better, and one of them will be appointed minister of tourism.

Every Knesset has its oddities, and this one has "Tartarina" as Likud MK Michael Eitan has called Tartman. If there is any lesson in this affair, it is that the primaries - the elections within a large electorate - is still a healthy method.

If Tartman had to be elected by a voting group of tens of thousands, most of them probably immigrants from the former Soviet Union, they would have uncovered the bluff and would have left her outside the Knesset. Why did Avigdor Lieberman position her in the fifth slot on the party's list? Why did he choose her to serve as minister? Only he knows the answer to that.