Floating Voter / The Squabbling of the Ministers

A number of versions were reported over the weekend. One said they were arm-in-arm before going in to beg his indulgence; another had them arm-in-arm inside the room standing before him. Yet another version said there was a hug involved, and it was not entirely clear whether they hugged of their own accord or at his command. Who will give us the authorized version? We also heard of their going down together to the garden, to the beds of spices, and it was hard not to think of the Song of Songs.

They are not kids, neither of them. The gentleman is past 60, and the lady was also not born yesterday, and still, for a moment it seemed they were asking their father's blessing on a late-life engagement.

For a long while now there have been no ministers in Israel. The minsters are more like aides to the prime minister, perhaps because they were never elected in their own right, and in each term of office they have found a locomotive to pull them like an empty train-car to their Knesset and cabinet seat. The system of government in which change is being sought has already changed in reality.

I speak from experience when I say I was always shocked to realize how short the reach and weak the opinion are of those who are called ministers. In matters great and small, unimportant and significant, they run to their prime number as if they themselves were worth nothing at all. With my own eyes I saw and wondered, who needs a cabinet and ministers if in any case the prime minister is the one who is going to decide in their place? He is the one who tells them each day what they must do and not do.

If it has been like that all through the years, during Ariel Sharon's day it is more so. Ostensibly, the ministers are doing their jobs, directing their ministries and making decisions, unless the prime minister decides differently. The arrangement is desirable and convenient for all concerned: the ministers for their part rid themselves of heavy responsibility, and the prime minister is privy to all matters and in control of the situation. No wonder more people take shortcuts and approach him directly, instead of wasting their breath with eunuch ministers. And no wonder important issues get bogged down and do not move, because the prime minister is up to his ears in work, or may be ill and resting.

There is a king in Israel these days. True, he is old and even infirm at times, and ministers will do what is right, and even what is not, only at the behest of their king. The regime in Israel today is a monarchy of the bad old kind. So who needs them, the minsters who are the butler and the baker of the king, who seem to make no decisions, only kiss and kiss.

And now - a gentleman and a lady minister are quarreling amongst themselves who will be the viceroy - or rather, who will be No. 2 on the Kadima list. It may not be nice to squabble (neither is it too terrible) but Sharon's anger was kindled against his rebellious eunuchs. They are certainly in for a serious dressing-down.

That's all Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni need - not to make up right away and without further ado. Papa Sharon will lock his overgrown kids in their room and won't let them watch television. And then they won't know how embarrassing and embarrassed they look on the evening news.