Watch out for this one (Photo: NYT)The Sunday NYT Magazine's cover story today is a profile of Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. The author is Roger Cohen, a regular Page 2 columnist for the International Herald Tribune. At the IHT, his stuff is savvy commentary on Europe from an American perspective. In the Livni profile, he sets out to explain to an American reader largely unfamiliar with contemporary Israeli politics and culture what makes Tzipi tick. So it's half a not so sympathetic deconstruction of a tough cookie, and half primer on the predicament of Israel today, decadent in its post-heroic age, paranoid about the future, but unwilling to make the hard sacrifices to secure it. The article is worth looking at for two reasons. First, you get a sense of Livni's vision, which is to say, her platform for the PM job. Time is not on Israel's side, she argues. In fact, the state, the Jewish character of the state of Israel, is being delegitimated. You could also say that Livni seems to be going for a "post-ideological" posture -- a new way forward. She's almost Obama-esque both in the content of her tirelessly forward-looking message and in her delivery. Which brings me to my second point. One thing that Cohen misses, for all the pretense of getting beneath the surface, is just how clever a politician Livni is. I think she puts one over on her interviewer, though he, in starting the article by relating an anecdote about her nerves and desire not to be seen as a tight-ass, thinks it's the other way around. What I mean is that this is clearly someone capable of using the foreign media to bolster her position in Israel and vis à vis her rival, PM Olmert. Somewhat ironically, Cohen mentions the FM vs. PM struggle to dominate the relationship with Washington as a recurrent feature of Israeli politics. Livni plays this game very well. And, disappointingly, that part of her story isn't at all covered in a profile in a US newspaper that dwells on her brief (but sexy?) stint in the Mossad and misses that she has strong US connections and speaks perfect English!