Analysis: Olmert rages against the dying of the light

If anyone thought the countdown to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's ouster would begin in earnest after the Labor Party primary, he took the Knesset rostrum Tuesday and in quintessential Olmert fashion - employing equal measures of pathos and sarcasm - said succinctly: Think again. Nearly a year after the fateful decision to go to war in Lebanon - a year in which, according to the polls, the prime minister lost the confidence of the vast majority of the public - Olmert made it clear that he is not going anywhere. He had one piece of advice for the public: Take off those dark-colored glasses; things in the North aren't as bad as you think. The war was a success, not a failure. Don't take his word for it, he said. Listen to those who really know - people like Hebrew University military historian Prof. Martin van Creveld, UNIFIL commander Maj.-Gen. Claudio Graziano, and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. To a man, Olmert told the country, they said that Israel's strategic situation had improved enormously. And surely they must know. To the Winograd Committee he said, delicately, "I disagree." One of the committees' findings was that it was unrealistic and therefore a mistake to make the return of kidnapped soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev one of the war's aims; Olmert respectfully demurred. He also rejected the committee's findings that the decision to go to war was made in haste, without proper preparation. He prepared for months, Olmert said. And he also had a message for the opposition: "Don't blame me, you were all in on it, you all you backed me. Even Bibi [Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu] told me he would have acted in a similar manner." There was nothing really new in what Olmert said Tuesday. Either he, or his spokespeople, has consistently made those same arguments numerous times over the last few months. But coming as they did the day after the Labor primary, Olmert's words had the distinct ring of a CEO telling a board of directors clamoring for his head after a dreadful year that they were all in on the company's poor showing, and that he was not going to take the fall for anybody. As if the country didn't already know, Olmert made sure Tuesday that everyone was well aware that he had no intention whatsoever of going gently into that good political night.