Olmert's Morning Ritual

The prime minister is paralyzed in all parts of his body. He can still pose for photographs with his friends from Binyamina and joke with Condoleezza, but the opportunity of his lifetime is slipping from his hands.

What does a prime minister have in his life? He gets up in the morning and the morning in him does not get up, to paraphrase David Avidan. What does Ehud Olmert say to himself when he gets up every morning? What will he do today? And when he goes to bed at night, what does he think about his day? Does he think about how he made full use of this day in the lofty and coveted position to which he aspired his whole life? Does he worry about whether he managed to react to the report on Channel 10 about the political appointments? Or that he was successful in dodging another blotch to his name? Or that he was able to get the appointment of a tourism minister approved - or even that of a social welfare minister? That he succeeded again in pleasing the American administration by rejecting the signals from Syria? Or by smashing the Mecca agreement? Or by fleeing the Saudi initiative? Or by badmouthing his defense minister and even ordering another liquidation in the territories?

And what will the prime minister say to himself at the end of his first year in office? And what about at the end of the second? What does he think he will leave behind, except for his survival, even if he remains in office for a long time?

The more time passes - and the days are going by, already 10 months in office - it is becoming increasingly clear that the former substitute for the prime minister is continuing in this role: He is filling a place, as simple as that. He is filling an empty place in his office, an empty place in his official vehicle, an empty place in the plane that takes him on another barren trip overseas, an empty place in the prime minister's seat.

Beyond this, there is nothing - only a terrifying vacuum. Yitzhak Shamir, a prime minister who turned doing nothing into an agenda, seems like a particularly activist prime minister in comparison to the current one.

Olmert was given a golden opportunity that arose because of an unhappy and unexpected coincidence. He was catapulted into the center of the political arena at a time when he was relatively young and energetic, and before being relegated to its margins, he was able to seize the opportunity and make full use of the chances it entails. After all, his success and legacy will never be measured by the number of days he manages to survive in his office.

One might have expected Olmert would try to leave his mark, to think about the day after, about the way in which he will be remembered. He should have remembered what his teacher and leader Menachem Begin did during the first months of his term, even though Begin was more despised and aroused much more suspicion.

At the beginning, everything seemed to be auspicious. Olmert did not fudge his positions during the election campaign. While resting on the glory of his predecessor, Olmert was elected because of his path, not by virtue of his personality. He promised "convergence," spoke about the need for a solution to the conflict, albeit unilateral, and even about an end to the occupation. Whether unrealistic or not, the convergence went up in smoke a long time ago and he has not proposed anything to replace it. Does he want the stupidest war in Israel's history to be the sole "Olmert legacy"?

It is already late now. Olmert and his government are up to their necks in serious allegations. But it is still not too late. His government enjoys quite a large majority, one that some of his predecessors could only dream of, and the prime minister could still arise from his ruins.

But to our great consternation, there is no sign of this happening. The prime minister is paralyzed in all parts of his body. He can still pose for photographs with his friends from Binyamina and joke with Condoleezza, but the opportunity of his lifetime is slipping from his hands.

His personal fate need not interest us. But the time lost is critical. A moment longer - a binational state; a moment longer - outposts of Iran surround us on all sides. Opportunities are being missed one after another.

Does the prime minister see all of this when he looks in the mirror? Does he think about this when he gets up in the morning, to another morning of sinful inaction, and the morning in him (and in us) does not arise?