If it weren't sad, it would be funny. Any high-school student understands it is possible to have one opinion or another about attacking Iran, but it isn't something to be mentioned out loud.
This has been Kadima's Guinness week: The party managed to break its own records for power struggle. Number 8 on the party list, Shaul Mofaz tried to make political hay by threatening an attack on Iran. Number 19, Ruhama Avraham, tried to ensure her political future by saying the investigations into the prime minister don't matter. Meanwhile, Nos. 4 and 7 on the Kadima list, Haim Ramon and Meir Sheetrit, continued to jockey politically by warmly recommending war in the south. A war that senior Kadima-ites suggest should be led by the same premier facing criminal suspicions, who failed resoundingly in managing the last war.
If it weren't sad, it would be funny. Any high-school student understands it is possible to have one opinion or another about attacking Iran, but it isn't something to be mentioned out loud. Any high-school student understands it is possible to have one opinion or another about the investigation of the prime minister, but it cannot be ignored. Any high-school student understands it is possible to have one opinion or another about an operation in Gaza, but it is impossible to imagine that a prime minister being investigated and lacking moral authority would lead the nation into war.
Any high-school student understands, but not Kadima's ministers. They have managed to raise political cynicism to new heights. This is a party of corruption. A party whose own survival is its only interest. Self-interested calculations are its only vocation, and the serial shattering of norms is its only contribution to public life. Even the fig leaf of Tzipi Livni cannot hide the disgrace of the cynical center party.
A party that didn't have the strength to shake free of Ehud Olmert after the Second Lebanon War. And didn't have the strength to shake free of him after the Winograd Report, and not after Morris Talansky's testimony. A party that, like Haim Ramon's forgotten whales, has decided to beach itself with Olmert. Pity. Kadima was a party created out of real need. It was established to express the desire of the new Israeli majority demanding a third way. The party was founded to offer worthy leadership and a reasoned middle road, not messianic nor self-righteous, and it was supposed to cure the ills of politics. After the dark years of the Likud Central Committee, Kadima was supposed to build enlightened and sane centrist rule. The ideology of the new party of hope was supposed to be like its original name: national responsibility.
Beyond a shadow of a doubt it became clear this week that Kadima has become the party of national irresponsibility. If its early ethical corruption could be attributed to one excuse or another, then no excuses are left. If its silence of the lambs could be defended one way or another, no defense is left.
When the party in power makes politics of the fate of the nation, it has become irreparable. A party with no direction and no value. A party that knows no shame. A party of unadulterated opportunism. Kadima's harvest in power is impressive: a failed war and two conflicting, useless diplomatic plans. And a prime minister who gets envelopes; a former finance minister charged with theft; a deputy prime minister convicted in a court of law. The public has completely lost confidence in elected officials and democratic institutions. The country's economic strength and military might can no longer conceal the fact that its leadership suffers from diplomatic blindness and systemic moral failure.
In a civilized country, a ruling party with such a bottom line would long since have been pushed off the stage. Lucky for Kadima, Israel is not a civilized country. The exhausted citizenry, inferior political system and sleepy public discourse allowed the empty party to survive.
However, that anomaly will not last. If Kadima doesn't change itself from the bottom up, it will have no right to exist. If it doesn't replace Olmert immediately, there will be no choice but elections. If, in the elections, a refreshed and daring Livni doesn't stand at the head of Kadima, the elections will focus on Kadima itself. Just as protest against the immoral Likud Central Committee destroyed the Likud in the last elections, protest against Kadima's immoral core will slam Kadima in the next elections.