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Livni Rocks the Vote, Just Barely

Man, miss a week of blogging and you miss Tzipi Livni getting elected by 431 votes. Of course, there’s been plenty going on since then, what with the U.S. presidential debates and, oh yeah, Wall Street crashing and this clip looping endlessly through my brain, especially as we stare the High Holidays in the face.

Personally, I think there are a number of really solid reasons to like Tzipi Livni. For starters, she’s relatively new-school. One of the most shocking things about Israeli political history is the relatively short list of names you’ll have to learn. Livni’s certainly establishment enough—she’s been in the Knesset for almost ten years—but she not one of the big names from years gone by. She won’t carry nearly as much baggage, plus it’s just nice to have a breath of fresh air. She’s dovish, anti-settlement and believes that change can be accomplished, so she’s going to have quite a battle trying to pull a government together.

(One of the worst lines of recent news was Bibi Netanyahu’s response to a question about Likud joining a Livni-led Kadima coalition. Politics aside, I’m sorry, the guy just reminds me of a used-car salesman, and smarmy remarks like “It would be like joining the board of Lehman Brothers right now” just rub me the wrong way.)

Not that it matters as much in Israel, where it seems you’re generally determined fit to lead before your skill area is sharply defined, but Livni’s worked in law, in the Agricultural ministry, Immigration ministry, and has had a number of jobs within government. She’s seen a variety of issues up close. There’s strong evidence to suggest she’s quite intelligent.

Until the deadline on her mandate expires, we should appreciate her. She’s here, there’s no evidence she’s been pocketing any envelopes of cash, and she wants to take a big step towards peace. For the future, I wish her well and hope she manages to pull that whole coalition shtick off.

But in the interim, she’s a useful symbol because of that tiny margin. 431 votes. A reminder of the power of democracy and the power of a single vote. One that made me want to text all my friends to ask Are you registered? And if you’re not, can you change that, um, immediately?

And while we’re working on rocking the vote over here—the best of luck to you, Tzipi Livni, in pulling together a coalition and getting on with the good work.

–Mel Weiss