Gerard Baker has an article in the Times of London speculating that whoever wins the upcoming elections in the US will fail dismally, and things will get better only with the next fellow (gal?). I wouldn't know about all that, but he's got an interesting underlying question: who in his sane mind would want the job right now? The reason I ask is because the situation in Israel could easily fit the same description. The job of Israeli prime minister is easily the second trickiest job in the world, trailing only after that of the American president for the things you can do wrong and the ease of messing up on a grand scale (can you think of any other such position? Let's say the chancellor of Germany screws up, not to mention Canada: who'd ever even notice?). That's in normal times. Right now, whoever's occupying that house up on Balfour st. will have to deal with all of the usual, plus making the decision about Iran. What sane person would want the job?
The other day I got a phone call from a pollster, who grilled me on my opinions and positions (in Israel. She never asked me about Palin). Part of the interview included a long series of questions where I was to rate the aptitude of Bibi, Barak and Tsipi to do this that and the other. Graded between 1-10. I consistently gave Bibi 2 out of 10 (been there, done that) except for as minister of the treasury, which he did extraordinarily well. Barak got a consistent 4 out of 10 (been there, no need to go back). Tsipi? I gave her a consistent 6 out of 10. As I said to the pollster, who groaned her agreement, what do we know about Livni? Almost nothing, but we hope for the best.
The Americans wonder what they know about Obama, and almost all have made up their mind (this way or that) about Palin. Well, Livni has been near the center of our limelight for a decade already, in various ministerial positions, thus trouncing all four American candidates combined, but no-one has the faintest idea if she's up to the job. With the possible exception of the 70-year-olds who ascended to the job between 1994-2001 (there were three of them), the only way we know if someone is up to the job is by letting them have it, and watching them fail.
Livni has the tremendous advantage that she's apparently not corrupt, and not even all that dirtied as a political hack. Exactly a set of abilities that are irrelevant to success at the job she seems likely soon to have. So we hope for the best.
By the way: if and once she gets the job, which seems rather likely, Israel will be the only country in the world with women at the head of all three executive branches: Dorit Beinish is the head of the supreme court, Dalia Itzik is the head of the knesset, and Tsipi. It's nice to be so much more progressive than all those liberals.