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It would be unnatural, even unhuman, if today's column were not devoted to Shinui and Tommy. Refraining from writing in this case could only be interpreted as self-righteousness, and the self-righteous deserve contempt. So, the end was inevitable, a bad end.

Much has been said about the party that was the party of one man and one banner. It is more correct to speak of a party with one leg, and how far can you get without two legs or even crutches, before you trip and fall flat on the floor? And the single leg was also one that trampled every ultra-Orthodox Jew as if he were a cockroach and his children as if they were worms.

We've seen parties rise and we've seen them wither and fall. Shinui is neither withering nor falling; it is slipping off the public table like an oily omelette splattering on the floor. The omelette must be thrown out, and the oily smudge wiped. No egg will come of this omelette, not even a scrambled egg. Great expectations have come to nothing.

You should not cheer your rival's fall, but who will believe me if I pretend to be sad. I'll be looking on now from the outside, yet I can't help laughing. If the live-feed images tickle me, should I not laugh? More than laughing at the individuals involved, I find the concept laughable.

Until a day or so ago, the Shinui Council was the most democratic and most responsible and most intelligent institution in the country, and Tommy's self-praise was ceaseless: which of the other parties' institutions can compare to the Shinui Council in terms of clean hands and clean minds?

And suddenly, horror of horrors, Tommy himself barely beat a straw candidate and was elected by the skin of his teeth. And Avraham (Sancho) Poraz was defeated by a youngster from the in-house opposition. How could this have happened? How could the Number 2 slot, Poraz's perennial property, have been plundered? How was the smartest, most decent institution in the land beset by a spirit of nonsense and malice? And how will the public survive the terrible blow?

The human and personal tragedy of David Levy (Number 21 in Likud) pales beside the party and national tragedy of the Lapid-Poraz duo, which treated their movement like a private-family business. The general public isn't offered the initial shares, but is called on to invest massively in the Yosef & Avraham enterprise. And now they've suddenly taken over the works, and the takeover by Paritzky & Co. is considered a hostile one.

If anyone senses here more than a smidgen of gloating, I won't disagree. There are reasons for that gloating, both personal and public, and it is reserved not only for Shinui's emissaries but also for their dispatchers. The pathetic death of Shinui was a death foretold, but 450,000 voters refused to see the stillbirth four years ago. Fifteen seats is a lot of seats, and many predicted 25 seats for Shinui in the next elections. Tommy already saw himself as prime minister, with the velvety hunk, Yair Lapid, the heir apparent. To pile so many seats onto one leg is a rash and irresponsible act. The load is too heavy for a weightless party that lives off a sparse and unhealthy diet of gobbling ultra-Orthodox for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Now those 450,000 voters are having trouble explaining to themselves how they could have invested their all in a shady advertising scheme. I'm gloating, so they'll be more careful next time.