Defeated by a 'Loser'

State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss had hoped to come out of the Knesset State Control Committee meeting today having left behind him scorched earth, strewn with casualties, Ehud Olmert foremost among them. The reporters were prepared and informed in advance that there was going to be a great deal of excitement.

In his preparations for a media circus, the state comptroller forgot some of the basic rules that any law clerk knows by heart - for example, asking for a response from the potential victims. Yesterday, however, after having dragged the country into three days of an ugly street fight between himself and the prime minister, the state comptroller folded. He announced that no conclusions will be presented on individual responsibility in the short report to be read today to members of the State Control Committee (assuming the High Court of Justice will not cancel the meeting).

Those who know Lindenstrauss know how much this hurts him: not because of the "security of the state" or because the "rehabilitation of the home front" is in the balance. That's not really up to him. But because he was defeated by Olmert, the "loser," the man who has forgotten what victory tastes like.

Another thing bothering Lindenstrauss is the fact that he lost to Olmert in the media war. After all, that is what he gives primacy to. Lindenstrauss and his associates have become master spin doctors. They brief, they leak and they spew hot air, but the end product is problematic. His predecessor, judge Eliezer Goldberg, in his gray, discreet manner, did a lot more. Lindenstrauss embarrassed not only himself in this episode but also the institution he heads.

He allowed Olmert to claim that when the final report is made public in the summer, it will be tainted since the comptroller himself said on February 6 that he had already essentially reached his conclusions on the way the home front was handled. And he, with his own two hands, diverted public attention from the serious issues at hand and onto his own problematic personality.

The relevant report for Olmert and his aides arrived at the Prime Minister's bureau yesterday evening. It includes dozens of pages, with many details, dates and events. Others being examined also received the report at the same time. They will need a great deal of time to prepare their response. Those who have seen such reports in the past know that the final version, in many cases, does not resemble the original draft.

Everyone has a truth of his own to tell, but the 90-plus persons who are being investigated, from the prime minister to the Home Front commander to the last relevant official in the Interior Ministry, have lost faith in the comptroller as a result of his behavior.

In a "properly functioning" state (we can hardly avoid using this expression these days), the state comptroller would have to reconsider his future following such a mishap. But Lindenstrauss does not live in a properly functioning state. No one knows better than him.