April 17, 2007


Sliming Wolfowitz: The World Bank president did nothing wrong. (Christopher Hitchens, April 17, 2007, Slate)

"We know no spectacle so ridiculous," wrote Macaulay about the vilification of Lord Byron, "as the British public in one of its periodical fits of morality." Change the word "ridiculous" to "contemptible," and the words "British public" to "American press," and you have some sense of the eagerness for prurience, the readiness for slander, and the utter want of fact-checking that have characterized Paul Wolfowitz and Shaha Riza as if they were not only the equivalent of Byron seducing his half-sister, but as if they were financing their shameless lasciviousness out of the public purse and the begging bowls of the wretched of the earth.

I ought probably to say at once that I know both Wolfowitz and Riza slightly, and have known the latter for a number of years. Anyone in Washington who cares about democracy in the Muslim world is familiar with her work, at various institutions, in supporting civil-society activists in the Palestinian territories, in Iran, in the Gulf, and elsewhere. The relationship between the two of them is none of my damn business (or yours), but it has always been very discreet, even at times when Wolfowitz, regularly caricatured as a slave of the Israeli lobby, might perhaps have benefited from a strategic leak about his Arab and Muslim companion.

It is scarcely Riza's fault that she was working in a senior position at the World Bank when Wolfowitz was gazetted as its president. And quite frankly, if I were he, or indeed she, I would have challenged anyone to make anything of it. Of very few other people working there could it so obviously be said that she held her post as of right, and on merit. But we all think we know about "the appearance of a conflict of interest," and so I would like you to read what the general counsel to the bank, Robert Danino, wrote to Wolfowitz's lawyers on May 27, 2005.

Like Alberto Gonzales, Mr. Wolfowitz's sin is not anything he did, but that he's become a target of Bush Derangement Syndrome. One hopes both will refuse to quit.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 17, 2007 10:49 PM

We all know Bush will go to the mat for Alberto Gonzales. Paul Wolfowitz, OTOH, may have to make his own stand.

Posted by: Brad S at April 18, 2007 8:53 AM

I read on a usually sensible conservative blog that both Wolfowitz and Riza should resign because this "scandal" is worse than Clinton and Monica because Clinton didn't pay Monica. Of course, that's not quite true. Clinton paid Monica off by sending his pals Bill Richardson and Vernon Jordon, to New York to find cushy job at Revlon for her, but that, of course, isn't the issue.

The issue is that people who are usually well informed and share our conservative philosophy are, among other foolishness, calling for blood here.

Is there any hope they'll come to their senses and vote the party ticket in 2008? I fear a third party candidate far more than I fear Hillary, who can't win in a two man race.

Posted by: erp at April 18, 2007 9:02 AM

The far Right hates neocons, not least for their being Jews.

Posted by: oj at April 18, 2007 10:42 AM

Neocons? I get confused. Are they the bunch at NRO?

Posted by: erp at April 18, 2007 1:00 PM