Friday, May 18, 2007

Wolfie finally gets his clue

I have less than no time to post this week but I so like short stories that have a moral...

One of the authors of Dubya's Debacle in Iraq, Paul Wolfowitz, has managed to disgrace himself thoroughly enough by conflict of interest as president of the world bank that the only choices left to him were resign right now or be fired. He has resigned. That NY Times article has a tidy little time-line box if you are interested in the blow by blow of how the man brought himself down.

The most amazing thing to me is how radically sentiment about the man's qualifications differs between bloggers like me and the accidental president with the subnormal IQ. Long before he left the Pentagon to run the world bank, Wolfowitz was almost uniformly criticized as a clumsy conservative ideologue by writers outside of the charmed circle of neoconservatives. Nothing has happened in the years since he planned the reconstruction of Iraq [how's that going?] to do anything but reinforce that opinion. Bush gave Wolfie the world bank job as a sop when it was clear he was damaged goods to the Pentagon and too rough a customer even for the Bush whacking school of governing. We could ask of Dubya, "What was he thinking?" but the answer is plainly "not much".

Posters and commenters on the blogs I read readily quipped "OMG! He has an actual girl friend" when the Shaha Ali Riza salary shenanigans came to light. I was surprised that he even has friends. The word "friend" appears seven times in the text of Steven Weisman's NYT article. But here is the heart of the illness that is Bush League conservatism: Lacking competence or a decent respect for arguments that proceed from facts, this administration relies on friendships and unexamined reputation. Friendships then, must be of the most honest and psychologically healthy sort if they are the glue that holds where ability is lacking. The character of the friendships on which the Bush white house runs aren't, can't be, much better than the character of the players in that tragedy. The "friendships" have a strongly conditional aspect and many operate on a mafia-like dynamic of reward and punishment:
But others say Mr. Wolfowitz repeated the mistakes he had made at the Pentagon: adopting a single-minded position on certain matters, refusing to entertain alternative views, marginalizing dissenters.

“Wolfowitz unsettled people from the outset,” said Manish Bapna, executive director of the Bank Information Center, an independent watchdog group. “His style was seen as an ad hoc subjective approach to punishing enemies and rewarding friends.”

Though he was one of the original coterie of "Vulcans", and had a few accomplishments in foreign service to his name when Bush took him on, Wolfie had demonstrated his incompetence by the time he was given the World Bank job. Why this is not a mark against Bush in more minds is a mystery to me. Wolfie cosponsored some of this young century's most abject and inhumane failures and, like Bush himself, met competence with conflict if it did not fit his ideology:
His time at the Pentagon was characterized by infighting, especially with the Central Intelligence Agency, which he thought underestimated Iraq as a threat to the United States. He clashed with Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, the Army chief of staff, and others who warned — correctly, it turned out — that the United States would need more forces in Iraq. His vision of democracy in the Arab world also ran aground in Baghdad.
You may think I am mistaken here: aren't the stubborn shows of fidelity such as retaining Rumsfeld far past his usefulness at least a sign of closeness or faithfulness that real friends should enjoy? But I maintain that friends don't let friends govern drunkenly: these "friends" could not criticize effectively or listen to each other if the messages were not positive. They are stuck with each other more than they are friends.

Bush and his supporters have claimed that you should choose leaders based on character. They may be right, we should try it some day in this country. Until then, give me a brain trust that actually has some brains.

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