Electionscape: There's no market for a Mr. Clean

If I have to take Uzi Dayan's word against that of Omri Sharon, I think I prefer the ex-general's.

anshel pfeffer 298.88 (photo credit: )
anshel pfeffer 298.88
(photo credit: )
If I have to take Uzi Dayan's word against that of Omri Sharon, I think I prefer the ex-general's. Sharon Junior has just been indicted for financial corruption in the funding of father Ariel's primaries campaign in 1999 and been investigated in a brace of other cases, no one has ever suspected former deputy chief of the General Staff Dayan for anything worse than not polishing his boots to a sheen.
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But the question isn't whether the prodigal son indeed pressured then national security council chief, Dayan to help out father's donors get a security all-clear for their floating casino next to Eilat. The question is why now, three and a half years since the alleged contact, has Dayan suddenly come out with the story. The answer is clear, Dayan is running a hopeless race as head of the Tafnit list for the Knesset. Dayan isn't one of those weirdos like the guy from the men's rights party or the group who want to wage war on the banks, he has polls that show the public like and trust him, so why do the same polls show that he hasn't a chance in hell to cross the electoral threshold. In desperation he tried to pull a scoop out his hat. His accusations attracted media interest but after 48 hours no one will be interested and we're not about to see a sudden surge in the polls, two weeks before E-day. Why can't Tafnit make the cut? Dayan's party has a very thin agenda, against public corruption and a strict separation between politics and the civil service and military. But it's not as if a one-issue party can't succeed, just look at the way Shinui swept the ballot sweepstakes with an anti-haredi agenda. The comparison with Shinui is illuminating, in 1999 they were also facing electoral extinction until they brought in a star-player. Tommy Lapid could never be called a nice guy, his chief attraction was his rude, no punches barred, in-your-face television appearances and his blatant hatred of the ultra-Orthodox. Maybe it's sad but that's how we like our politicians, tough, aggressive and mean. Being a nice guy gets you nowhere in politics, voters just don't take you seriously. Neither is honesty much of an asset. Arye Deri took Shas to its highest results after he had been convicted for accepting bribes. After Deri's verdict, I asked Shas voters whether they really didn't believe the evidence against him. Many of them answered that they didn't mind the bribes, all the politicians take them, only Deri had been singled out for treatment because he was smart, haredi and Moroccan. The slew of allegations that came out on the eve of the last elections against Ariel Sharon and the Likud didn't have any effect on the eventual landslide. The public just didn't care, on the contrary, they seemed to be pleased to be voting for a crafty operator like good old Arik, he might be a crook, but he's our crook. No wonder that Sharon and Kadima's spin-doctor Eyal Arad refused to be flustered by the latest series of sleaze allegations against his clients Ehud Olmert, Tzahi Hanegbi and the Sharons, "corruption just isn't an issue" he reassures with a smile. And that's what Uzi Dayan refuses to understand. There's no local market for a Mr. Clean, everyone knows that Omri's no saint who ran the country for five years and looked out for his friends and family, but very few voters believe that's our main problem. There are the minor issues of terror, poverty, education failure and those pesky Iranians to deal with first, and we prefer to have our own bad guy to take on the other side's bad guys. So what if he might have taken something on the side, or enjoys amazing discounts on his real estate. Uzi Dayan can carry on charging at windmills.