The house that Olmert built

Prime minister's improper appointments come back to haunt him
What does the public have against the Olmert administration? Why do so
many people feel that this is “the worst cabinet Israel has had in
recent years”?  
It's not because of the war. The shortcomings revealed and those yet to
be revealed regarding the military's conduct in Lebanon are not
attributed to the prime minister and are not much different than the
failures prevalent in other military systems. The Olmert-Peretz cabinet
has had particularly low public ratings since its very inception, even
before a single shell was fired on the Lebanese border. It is doubtful
whether any government in the last 12 years has ever set out with such
limited public support, albeit its solid majority in the Knesset.  
The first week of fighting in Lebanon actually increased the Olmert
administration's popularity. The winds of war were beneficial, and in
polls conducted at the time, leading ministers received relatively high
marks. However, this was a short-lived peak. The public quickly resumed
its reservations. In the tests of credibility, suitability and
performance, the public awarded its ruling government particularly low
scores. Support for the coalition dropped after Avigdor Lieberman was
brought into the government – despite the fact that the number of MKs
supporting it increased.  
Even two controversial prime ministers Netanyahu and Barak enjoyed
greater support than Olmert on the eve of their critical visits to the
US – despite both being at a political ebb.  
Even the intensity of negative feelings towards Olmert in civilian life
cannot be explained by his policies. There is economic growth, the
shekel is strong, investors are investing, businesses are profitable,
the stock exchange is rising, salaries are increasing and with it the
standard of living. Next year's State budget is no worse than those of
previous years.  
The public burst into laughter
The public is judging Olmert's cabinet harshly not because of its
actions, but rather, because of its composition. It is generating
general revulsion not because of what it has done but rather because of
what it is. It is perceived as incapable, lacking a backbone, put
together at the whim of coalition caprices. In the eyes of the Israeli
public, the prime minister erred in the majority of the nominations for
the majority of ministerial posts. On completing the assembly of the
cabinet, the Israeli public was exposed to the house that Olmert built,
and it burst into laughter.  
The public wanted a professional and smart government and it got a grey
and amateur one.  Late Professor Peter F. Drucker, one of the greatest
management scientists, would tell his students in the very first
lesson: Of all the decisions a manager has to make, and they are
numerous and inevitable, there is one he must devote all his time and
effort to, because this is what will either determine his success or
failure: The decision who to appoint to which position. When the right
people are appointed to the right posts, explained Drucker, 80 percent
management success is assured. The remaining 20 percent is luck,
environment and character etc. The risk of appointing bad people is not
only that unsuitable people are detrimental to the company, but more so
that they appoint unsuitable people such as themselves as their
subordinates, which is usually revealed belatedly if at all.
Bad appointments like a malignant disease
Bad appointments, Drucker would caution, are synonymous with a
malignant disease, only discovered when it is too late.  
I doubt whether Olmert has read Professor Drucker's recommendations. I
have reason to believe he hasn't because he just recently appointed
Avigdor Lieberman, a man of action, to the post of Israel's minister
charged with strategic affairs. In other words, he appointed the active
Lieberman, who excelled in the post of infrastructure minister, to a
post more suitable for a person with a background in history and
military matters with a contemplative nature – everything that
Lieberman is not.  
Lieberman, by the way, presented himself in a long interview granted to
the Russian TV channel as the minister charged with all of Israel's
clandestine matters “just like Dan Meridor and Omar Suleiman, the head
of Egyptian intelligence.” Could this be true, and we didn't even know? 
The cloud of Olmert's unsuitable appointments will continue hanging
over him and his cabinet even if it chalks up practical achievements.
The management professor's grim predictions will also come into play,
and by the time the prime minister comes to his senses several
subordinates, just like their superiors, will be appointed to
unsuitable posts. This is the secret of the system – it duplicates its
If Olmert intends to shed the curse that has chased him as far as
America, he should fix the problem at home. To be more precise, in the
prime minister's house that he himself built.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *