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When all is said and done, there is something sad about seeing a prime minister leave and never return to public life. In spite of everything, it is sad when the doors are locked behind him and he departs, somewhat lonely, and the chances of missing him later are not very great. Weep sore for him that goeth away and the voice of supplication is not heard. Perhaps only his closest aides, and a few personal friends, will wipe away a tear.

Ehud Olmert is a victim of himself; his beginning determined his ultimate fate. From the moment he decided on a political career, he should have made another decision, concerning which was more important to him: status or money, soul or possessions, public life or personal life. And he should not have confused them. Olmert wanted to enjoy both worlds and thus he lost both.

He did not understand soon enough that the job and the status carry obligations.

As prime minister he had actually tried harder and had been more cautious, but it was already too late. His past pursued him like a shadow, and caught up with him. He has no one to blame but himself.

He had directed his whole life toward becoming prime minister, and that's no easy life. Every step, every act, every statement - all are directed toward a single goal, to which one's whole life is in thrall. Only a very few have the privilege, only one at a time. What joy, what satisfaction. And what bitter disappointment.

Not only is he going, but disgrace and fury surround him. Yesterday we saw a caricature in one of the newspapers: Olmert is still at his desk, standing, and Tzipi Livni is at the door and he says to her: "I'll just collect the last envelopes and I'll be out of here."

Who would want to be prime minister if that is the way it ends? Sad, and very insulting. That is the worst thing that can happen to a politician - to be humiliated. It's better to be hated.

He certainly must be preoccupied with the question of what will remain, what he is leaving for those who come after him. Not a lot, to tell the truth. A whole life that ends at rock bottom: He leaves a dejected national mood, lack of faith in leadership, unfinished and unraveling agreements, missed opportunities, revulsion at corruption, fear of violence, crumbling government institutions, a bruised army, an undermined court and great anxiety over the future. For the first time people are asking about tomorrow and they do not have a clear answer.

The successors, we concede, do not inspire faith and confidence. They seem frantic, as if possessed by a dybbuk; self-absorbed. They certainly could run a state without any of its citizens. And one feels an urge to tell them: You stay here, we'll go to hell. And in hell there is a ballot box in which to place our blank slips of paper.