Survival after Winograd

It appears time has come for Olmert and Peretz to start updating their resumes, as they may find themselves looking for work in near future.

It would appear that the time has come for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz to start updating their resumes, as they may just find themselves looking for work in the near future. If, as expected, the Winograd Committee comes out with some pretty harsh findings regarding the conduct of last summer's Lebanon debacle, the public and political pressure on Olmert and Peretz to go home will be enormous. In the seven months since the war's end, we have gotten occasional glimpses of the upper echelon's utter incompetence in how they managed the conflict, from lousy logistics to poor planning to a lack of strategic vision. But those were only glimpses - like the jabs thrown by a boxer in the ring against his opponent. The Winograd Committee's findings will likely prove to be more of an upper-cut to the chin - a knock-out punch that may send Olmert and Peretz reeling to the political floor. To begin with, neither man is very popular - not with the public, and not even within their own parties. Various media reports suggest that a sizeable number of Knesset Members from Olmert's Kadima party have been exploring the possibility of jumping ship and returning to the Likud, partly out of fear that Kadima is fading fast as a political force. And Peretz himself faces an uphill battle in the looming Labor primaries, where he is consistently polling behind the other main contenders. Both men enjoy low public approval ratings, and both have already been roundly and harshly criticized for the manner in which they have been running the country. In their already weakened state, the last thing that Olmert and Peretz need right now is for the Winograd report to come along and underline, emphasize and reinforce - in vivid detail - the already negative impressions which the public has formed of them. Yet that is exactly what appears will happen. And when it does, it will open the floodgates of censure even more forcefully, giving new ammunition to those who seek their removal. Don't be surprised if Olmert and Peretz turn on each other, and seek to shift the blame onto someone other than themselves. Neither will fall on his sword for the sake of his colleague, and both will be desperately looking for a way to ride out the storm and survive - even if it comes at their coalition partner's expense. So brace yourselves for what is sure to be quite a ride. Before you know it, we might just find ourselves heading back to the ballot box still again.