Photo: Hagai Aharon
Ehud Barak
Photo: Hagai Aharon
Photo: Ofer Amram
Benjamin Netanyahu
Photo: Ofer Amram

Campaign of silence

Netanyahu, Barak say little of substance, adopt non-campaign strategy

Rudolph Giuliani, the former New York mayor, is currently devising his strategy for the race to the White House in 2008. Political and media advisors have compiled a thick campaign book, detailing his political stances, stories recounting his former successes, his crackdown on NY crime, and rehabilitation of the city after 9/11.


According to the document, Giuliani's weak point is that he has been married and divorced several times which is likely to spark criticism regarding his values as a family man.


This campaign book, one of every politician's best-kept secrets, was stolen from Giuliani and publicised in the US media. Was this exposure harmful to him? Not necessarily. Its publicity perhaps divulged secrets pertaining to media tactics, but it also gave him free advertising of his perceptions and principles.


Bibi hardly attacks coalition

The premise of every candidate embarking on an election campaign is that the media will also embark on a rummaging campaign. This is an unwritten contract between candidates and their electorate that entitles the electorate to have the candidates undergo a national polygraph test.


They are entitled to ask the candidate any question and to examine his response by their seismographic needles. "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen," former American president Harry Truman once said.


What would thieves trying to obtain the campaign books of Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak have found? Would they have found blank pages? The two political refugees of the 1990s, who were assisted by American media consultants, are suddenly adopting the non-campaign strategy – namely a campaign void of a campaign.


Netanyahu, the chairman of the opposition, is hardly attacking the coalition.


Israel has just experienced a war that ended with a commission of inquiry; the government is not presenting a political plan and the prime minister is facing a criminal investigation. But Netanyahu is continuing to deliver stately, cautious speeches.


Barak making love, not war

Barak announced his running for the Labor party's leadership by a fax sent to the party's secretary general. He is not granting interviews and he is not presenting diplomatic, political or defense-related plans. In background meetings, he reiterates that he will not get involved in political mudslinging. The guru who has returned from India is making love, not war.


This non-campaign is ostensibly the campaign. These two calculated politicians are trying to rid themselves of the digital computer image that has stuck to them: Netanyahu the Transformer, and Barak the Robocop. They are trying to replace their old drive with new respectability. They replaced the well-oiled propaganda machine that responded during every evening newscast with cumbersome carrier pigeons that reach their destination weeks later.


This non-campaign doesn't lack logic. Ehud Olmert and Amir Peretz have begun the countdown to their political-demise precipitated by their own doing - and they do not require their rivals' assistance. This is the right political tactic, but a flawed democratic approach. The non-campaign, with no plans and no responses, could also attest to the fact that there are no candidates.


Former British prime minister Winston Churchill is attributed with a saying that attacking his political foe from the Labor party: "An empty taxi arrived at 10 Downing Street, and when the door was opened, Atlee got out." Will an empty car arrive at the Prime Minister's compound in Jerusalem and will Netanyahu or Barak step out?


פרסום ראשון: 01.22.07, 17:29
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