Saturday, April 21, 2007

Sheepish Wolfie

Paul Wolfowitz is in trouble this week and to some extent that is because he is one of the architects of the Iraq war policy. That's a simplification: he was appointed by his patron President Bush and is a creature of this administration, so he will naturally live by the Bushies and fall by the Bushies, so far as being World Bank president is concerned. As to how he measures up as a WB president, in terms of the overall role the Bank plays in 2007 and in terms of his differences with his predecessors, I can give you a firm opinion on that, but you'll have to give me a day or two to study. I see no discussion of this topic in the media, at least not in the coverage of Mr. Wolfowitz's troubles. Aside from the fact that he is under protest for his implication in the war (which is frankly enough admitted by the employees of the Bank), he has what looks like an imbroglio involving his girlfriend; we even read that he obtained a higher salary for her.
But I'm persuaded by Christopher Hitchens writing in Slate and several other voices, both conservative and unconservative, that this is a misrepresentation. According to new reporting, what happened is that Mr. Wolfowitz took it upon himself to write a letter disclosing his relationship with Shaha Ali Riza. This letter set off a chain of bureaucratic events leading to Ali Riza losing her current post and also losing, apparently, the likelihood of her next career goal that she had been working for for who knows how long. All very unfortunate.
Meanwhile, thinking of both Mr. Gonzalez and Mr. Wolfowitz, people don't understand that loyalty with the president is not exactly a two-way street. The fact that the president is not asking you for your resignation does not mean that it wouldn't be the right thing to submit it. We'll never know, for example, if H. W. Bush didn't really want Clarence Thomas to withdraw. Wouldn't you want to jump to resign the moment you saw you were embarrasing the president who chose you?

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