Mondale indeed lost the elections. Communication researchers explained at the time that the televised-political theater demands aesthetic continuity in the politician's appearance, otherwise he is tossed into history's dustbin.
Shelly Yachimovich is largely a victim of television's eye. She is one of the most talented parliamentarians in the Knesset today. An efficient and energetic lawmaker, who has left a mark on the parliament's work. She possesses both the required verbal ability to convey messages and a great deal of understanding in the way the media works. This is allegedly a winning combination, which should have allowed her to win the battle over the Labor Party chairmanship once again.
On television, like Mondale, she appeared insensitive, and sometimes also intimidating and dangerous. Nonetheless, she was portrayed as weak and ridiculous compared to Netanyahu and Lapid. They are not more talented than she is and she is not more vicious than they are: No one reaches the top of the pyramid without the ability to overtake others and without the character needed to destroy the opponents. They have, unlike her, the ability to create human warmth among voters, even if it is sometimes created in freezing indifference. The secret of the magic of charisma.
Building bridges rather than blowing them upIsaac (Buji) Herzog is portrayed as the opposite political model of Yachimovich: The good guy who every Jewish mother would love to see her daughter marry, but who she probably wouldn't trust in a battle against the neighborhood thug. Labor voters indeed preferred to elect him as No. 1 in the primary elections for the party's Knesset list, but not in the party's chairmanship elections.
What has changed now? Did they favor Buji because they hate Shelly, or did they perhaps learn something new about him? The Labor Party has lost its hegemony in the State but not the urge to claim it back. The fact that it beheads its leaders after every failure to win the elections shows that it has adopted the saying coined by American football coach Henry Russell: "Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing."
Do they believe that Buji will bring them victory, like he promised in the elections for the party chairmanship? Probably not. It's more likely that they have decided to try a different type of leadership. After the extrovert and aggressive conduct of Ehud Barak, and Yachimovich who failed to deliver against Netanyahu, there is a need for a less violent but more comprehensive chairman. The political Left and Center are more shattered than ever, and it's time for a person specializing in building bridges and not only in blowing them up.
Herzog, in spite of his delicate appearance, is perceived as a determined and consistent politician. Since being elected to the Knesset in 2003, he has stormed the party's leadership positions. In 2011 he failed to conquer the party's chairmanship, and nonetheless presented himself for the current race and won it. He did it in a non-fiery campaign, which showed maturity and seriousness. The crushing gap with which he beat Yachimovich gives him the aura of a winner.
And then it may be the baby face's turn to become the face of the State of Israel.