livni V sign 248.88.
(photo credit: AP)
When then-vice president Al Gore won the popular vote for the US presidency by a margin of 543,895 ballots, but lost in the decisive Electoral College, he challenged the results in the state of Florida and only conceded defeat fully 37 days after the election, having gone all the way to the Supreme Court.
But then Gore respectfully accepted the outcome and vowed to work to heal the rifts in the nation caused by the divisive campaign and the legal aftermath of the close race.
"For the sake of the unity of the people and the strength of our democracy, I offer my concession," Gore said. "Let there be no doubt that while I strongly disagree with the court's decision, I accept it. I accept the finality of this outcome."
Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu can only wish that Livni would act like Al Gore and let him return to the Prime Minister's Office in peace and quiet.
When Livni won the premiership in the popular vote by 28,978 ballots, but lost in the decisive coalition process, she decided to join the opposition and do everything possible to bring a Netanyahu government down.
"I will not serve as a fig leaf for a government of paralysis," Livni said Thursday on a tour of Sderot - in which, ironically, she was accompanied by US Sen. John Kerry, a man who, like Gore, knows what it's like to lose an election.
In America, Gore's name has become synonymous with coming in striking distance of power but never quite achieving it.
Livni has earned the same reputation here after having failed to form a government in October and again four months later.
Now she believes that the best way to advance herself politically is to go to the opposition and wait for the downfall of the right-wing government that she left Netanyahu no choice but to form.
The woman who said over and over during her campaign that she would put the country ahead of herself and her party will reject Netanyahu's offer to defend Israel's policies internationally as his foreign minister, and will instead head the opposition and likely join Israel's critics in inevitable Bibi-bashing to boost herself politically.
"I don't want to be Netanyahu's international stain remover," Livni said.
It is now up to President Shimon Peres to try to convince Livni to change her mind.
He no doubt will remind her that he served as former prime minister Ariel Sharon's foreign minister despite their differences of opinion, and never complained about being a "stain remover."
That's the difference between a statesman and a politician.
Peres and Gore might be losers, but they both are Nobel Prize winners who took steps to unite their nations later in their careers.
Gore galvanized his people and the world to prepare for the threat posed by global warming. Israel is facing a threat to its existence from Iran.
Livni could have helped Netanyahu present a unified front in the face of that threat by joining his government.
But now that she has made a firm decision to remain in the opposition, it is up to her to behave responsibly, let Netanyahu govern, and offer support of key decisions on Israel's security.
If she can do that, she might be given another chance to not only win an election, but also take office.