Yair Lapid: Number One on Channel Two

In the glowing piece about Lapid on the investigative show 'Fact,' there were no doubts, no humility, no reason to vote for anyone else.

Yair Lapid is a smug guy. Very smug. If smugness were a mediocre mystery novel then Yair Lapid would be ... Yair Lapid. Three days after the election he was filmed at home and was asked by journalist Ben Shani, of Channel 2's investigative show "Fact," whether he would run for prime minister in the next election. Lapid looked at Shani nonchalantly and replied: "I imagine so." Shani then took it up a notch, asking: "Will you win that election?" That gave Lapid no trouble: He scrunched up his eyebrows and gave Shani the obvious almost-offended answer, as though a gas station attendant had asked him whether to clean the windshield. "I imagine so," he replied, with an overwhelming understatement.

And that's it. The prime ministership is in his pocket like the car keys. There are no doubts, no humility, no reason to vote for anybody else.

Shani accompanied Lapid over the course of Yesh Atid's election campaign. By his own testimony, the journalist began documenting it without Lapid's cooperation, until the candidate became reconciled and let the cameramen of the investigative television program "Fact" into his car, into his home and into the heart of the most intriguing political operation of the election. And we found out a few things about Lapid. For example, that he fills up his car in the self-serve lane.

Shani's full report this week on the show was, in essence, a portrait of a perfect politician, who travels all over the country, shakes hands, smiles and gives his usual stump speeches with the usual passion. Lapid looked self-confident, did not make mistakes and, mainly, said even before the polling stations opened everything the commentators reported when the exit-poll results came out.

We will never know how Shani would have edited the piece if Lapid had flopped, and Yesh Atid were the fourth-largest faction in the incoming Knesset. In any event, the outcome is already known and the report came across as the success story of a flawless candidate.

But beyond the candidate, where is the person? Shani depicted Lapid as Lapid imagines himself: eloquent, self-satisfied, in no doubt about his abilities - speaking in Yair Lapidian cliches (the road to Rehovot reminds him, for example, of a trip from Dallas to El Paso ) and living in a Yair Lapidian cliche (with what looks like a boxing glove belonging to Muhammad Ali on permanent display in his home ). But where's the humanity? Where's the weakness? Lapid even claimed on-camera that during the stressful moments of the campaign his brow remained sweat-free.

Shani found no beads of sweat either. If this is the image that emerges after so many hours of being with Lapid, perhaps the conclusion is that that's the way he is: that he's never out of character, that he speaks in cliches to his wife too, that maybe there is no person there but only a candidate.

In the report Lapid said that when he is asked why he went into politics, he replies that there are three reasons: "Yoav, Lior and Yael" (his children ). "That is an answer," Lapid added, "that has truth to it." What does that say about the other answers? Maybe there really is some sort of truth in his response after all.

Tomer Applebaum