Everybody is coming down on Shinui leader Yosef Lapid like a ton of bricks. Imagine the nerve - how dare he refuse to lay on the floor and wag his tail every time the prime minister whispers his name? Worse, he’s even got the chutzpah to remind Sharon that the opposition is in no way obligated to support the government’s budget negotiations (in fact, quite the opposite is true: the opposition is supposed to oppose the government), nor is it Shinui’s responsibility to rescue Sharon from his internal Likud Party woes. “Show some responsibility,” cry the disengagement faithful. “How could you threaten such a ‘historic’ process? Lapid has no choice but prevent Sharon’s fall. The only ones who can save him from the unpleasant task of supporting the budget are the Yahad party and Arab Knesset members even more hostile to the coalition than Shinui. Yossi Beilin is reasonably clear. If forced, his party, which in contrast to Shinui, opposes both the government’s political and economic policies, will support the budget as the deadline draws near. Beilin himself is not sold on the disengagement plan, but 100 percent of his voters are (as are about 80 percent of Shinui voters). He thinks they expect their Knesset representatives will not bring down a government committed to disengagement. If so, the game is solely between Lapid and Beilin, to see who blinks first. One way or another, the budget will pass. Sharon knows it, Lapid knows it. But the prime minister is using the same old story to draw out a frightfully cynical processes. He basically shoved Shinui out of the coalition, despite the fact there was the most loyal of all the coalition partners. Now, he is buying support from the ultra-Orthodox parties when he knows he could receive such support for free from both Shinui and Yahad party. Sure, he meets with Yosef Paritzki, but says there is nothing to talk about with Shinui. Why, exactly, should it be forbidden for Lapid to try, even under these circumstances, to exact some sort of political gain in exchange for his support? Why, exactly, must Beilin and the Arab Kneset members, who Sharon won’t even deign to speak with by telephone, not only support Sharon for lack of a better option, but also must pretend as if they enjoy the exercise? Why are the things permitted to others forbidden to them? Essentially, the answer is because Shinui has billed itself so successfully as the primary guardian of a former generation, of the angry feelings of so many people fed up with the direction the country has taken. Shinui maintains the delusion that it determines the national agenda. Shinui spokesmen in the media continue to demand responsibility from those who have been forcibly removed from the driver’s seat. Therefore, Sharon can steer the country with complete cynicism and with naked power on all matters, from coalition matters to the Sasson report on illegal outposts. He can be sure that his trusty choir will demand Lapid forego his legitimate political needs. Not only to help, but to do it with a smile.