Ehud Barak is the spoiled child of Israeli politics. It's not that he didn't have to make an effort every now and then, but, as opposed to others, almost everything came relatively easy for him. Since he was a teenager people have always said that "he will be…" – he will be IDF chief of staff; he will be defense minister; he will be prime minister. And he was. Yitzhak Rabin had a lot of respect for Barak. Yitzhak Shamir was in awe of him. Peres predicted a great future for him. Bibi Netanyahu (and his family) admired him. But Barak admired only one person in his life – himself.
Justifiably or not, throughout his entire career Barak considered himself a better leader than others; someone who understood situations better than others. During his days in Sayeret Matkal (elite IDF unit), even before he was 20 years old, he rose above his peers. He was a superior leader and commander, and deceived the enemy better than anyone else.
He knew everything about everything: He knew about pancreatic cancer more than any oncologist; his level of familiarity with Tchaikovsky matched that of any orchestra conductor; he knew about Jewish history more than any professor – and yes, he was also a connoisseur of expensive watches (Patek Philippe) and cigars (Davidoff).
As opposed to many others who have had to fight for their place in Israeli politics (yesterday's Likud election was a good example of this), everything came relatively easy for Barak: He was offered the position of interior minister and later became foreign minister. His victory in the elections for prime minister was the most overwhelming in Israel's history (until the failure that followed).
He was the ultimate defense minister – one who was linked to numerous covert operations. Only a brilliant mind such as his could have conjured up a plan to assassinate Saddam Hussein. That plan failed (Zeelim B scandal), but no one complained about the craziness of killing Abu Jihad in a daring operation in Tunis, more than 2,000 kilometers from Israel.
But Ehud Barak has a flaw which will always prevent him from being a politician in Israel: He never takes anyone else's opinion into account. Everyone has to carry out his wishes. He never relented: Things always had to be done his way. Barak thought he knew better than everyone else. And in many cases he was right. He was never chummy with people. You never saw anyone pat him on the back in a friendly manner. He never cursed, and rarely spoke ill of anyone (expect Ashkenazi).
These traits made Barak an intolerable figure in the Israeli political arena, where politicians suck up to everyone. From being the darling of the Israeli nation, with tens of thousands of people cheering for him at Rabin Square after he won the elections, Barak's status within Israeli politics gradually declined until it reached its current level. Politics may not miss Barak, but security will.
I'm guessing that Barak, realizing that his political status was weakening, said: "You don't want me? No problem. I don't need your favors." Barak does not want to carry on his back a group of Knesset members who became lawmakers only because of him, and he is certainly not willing to suffer a crushing defeat in the next elections.