Just as a judge attempts to shorten the agony of the those waiting before him by reading the verdict and only later outlining his arguments, that's how Olmert began his second war speech: from the end to the beginning. And he did well. Because the most important part of his speech was delivered in the first sentence: the fighting will continue, there is no ceasefire, and there will be no ceasefire in the coming days.
Judging by the loud applause sounded by the heads of the local authorities, before whom he appeared, Olmert knew exactly what was expected of him. And this came 24 hours after civilians from both sides of the border had been in a state of confusion and bewilderment.
Are we in the midst of a ceasefire that will lead to the beginning of the end of the war, or is this just a temporary lull in the Israeli Air Force's operations? Perhaps there isn't even an intermission here, as became apparent by the reports of air activity that even included a failed targeted assassination.
Olmert shortened the time of uncertainty by making an unequivocal statement. In an assured appearance, which in many ways resembled his first war speech, he explained once again what we were fighting for and why. He summed up the price of the war vis-à-vis its achievements, he promised that the situation is yet to worsen, and didn't forget to mention what a wonderful people we are. Or in his words, what a resilient people we are.
Olmert's relationship with the public has began to resemble a relationship between a sadist and a masochist - when he assures us that many days of war are still ahead, and that missiles and Katyusha rockets will still be fired at us, the public becomes ecstatic. When he announces that pain, tears and blood are still to be expected, it truly becomes a catharsis. Ehud Winston Churchill.
The public likes being told the truth, even if it is painful, and Olmert has apparently decided to give the public what it likes hear and more.
Olmert wrote the speech himself yesterday morning after he awoke to the newspaper headlines. He didn't like what he saw. The headlines spoke of Olmert's surrender to US demands and to a ceasefire. This was added to the heavy atmosphere that prevailed after the tragedy at the village of Qana in south Lebanon, and the biting commentary lashed at the IDF's achievements, not to mention the claims alluding to a war devoid of targets - that hasn't achieved a thing.
What can be said in Olmert's favor is that he counted up to ten before delivering his speech and didn't lash out at the critiques as he is accustomed. He maintained his stately composure which included a growing pattern of reading out the names of the fallen.
He praised the solidarity of the people, the comradeship, the voluntary spirit and the mutual aid. He repeated his wining mantra from his former speech: our right to lead normal lives. Once again he addressed the Lebanese people, saying he regretted the tragedy, but he did not apologize, as would be expected from a proud and moral Jew.
So what can we learn from Olmert's speech? That the war isn't over. That there are still difficult times ahead, and that it is still too early to make summations. Or as otherwise said yesterday in a very un-stately manner at the prime minister's office: the money shouldn't be counted before the deal is done.