December 22, 2003


Paul Wolfowitz: The godfather of the Iraq war (Mark Thompson, December 21, 2003, TIME)

As tag teams go, Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, could not be more unlikely. Rumsfeld is a Cook County, Ill., politician, while Wolfowitz would be more at home at the University of Chicago, where he earned his doctorate. That makes them the most interesting one-two combination this side of Bush-Cheney. If Rumsfeld is the face, mouth and strong right arm of the war in Iraq, Wolfowitz—the intellectual godfather of the war—is its heart and soul. Whereas Rumsfeld talks about Iraq like a technician, Wolfowitz sounds more like a prophet. Says a close associate of the deputy's: "Paul asks himself every day how he can limit suffering by toppling another dictator or by helping people to govern themselves."

Rumsfeld offered Wolfowitz his current post with an invitation to serve as his intellectual alter ego, a senior aide says. Their offices are a short walk apart along the Pentagon's E-Ring. Wolfowitz frequently slips down a back hallway, peers through a peephole into his boss's suite and, if Rumsfeld is alone, walks right in. "He's got great power of concentration," says Wolfowitz, "so you can open the door—it doesn't disturb him—until he pauses, and I ask, 'Can you take a minute?'" They talk half a dozen times a day, on matters small and large. Rumsfeld likes to chaff his deputy. "If there's a grammatical error in something I've written," Wolfowitz says, "he loves to correct it and say, 'And he has a Ph.D.!'"

Most Pentagons feature a top guy who's a big thinker and a No. 2 who's the day-to-day manager. Rummy and Wolfie (as the President calls them) have it reversed: Wolfowitz is more ideological than Rumsfeld, which has suited both men for different reasons. Wolfowitz often ventured way ahead of the rest of the Administration on foreign policy matters over the past two years, and Rumsfeld frequently let him go. That allowed Wolfowitz to push the whole Bush team to the right, which also let Rumsfeld align himself with that crowd when it served his purpose to do so. "Rumsfeld's a big-enough maestro to understand that Wolfowitz was the leading edge and that someone had to do it," a Pentagon associate says.

For whatever reason it's still not done too often, but when you analyze the extraordinary success of the Administration, the starting point should be the unequalled business/bureaucracy savvy that the folks at its top ranks--Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Andy Card, Tommy Thompson, John Ashcroft, Christie Todd Whitman, etc.--brought to the job.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 22, 2003 6:17 PM

Absolutely right.

And to call Rumsfeld a 'Cook County politician' is like calling Thoreau a rural note-taker.

(Besides, did Rumsfeld represent suburban Lake County, not Cook County?)

Posted by: old maltese at December 22, 2003 6:39 PM

I think you can add Powell/Rice to that list.

Posted by: MG at December 22, 2003 6:55 PM

Don't forget John Bolton.

The Democrats will never say anything positive about Bush and how he has been effective. Not even as they wail under the electroal knife.

Check out Hugh Hewitt's blog for some good analysis of the stubborn wrongness of the leading Democrats, and their refusal to shut up in the face of unimpeachable evidence.

Posted by: jim hamlen at December 22, 2003 8:36 PM

When I was in the service, the ideal decision making process went something like this:

Is it good for the Country?
Is it good for the Air Force?
Is it good for the Command?
Is it good for the Squadron?
Is it good for my wingman?
Is it good for me?

Maybe I'm pollyannish and naive, but all these people seem to have their priorities set precisely right.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at December 22, 2003 8:53 PM

My first words after 12:01 p.m. on January 20, 2001 were, "The adults are in charge."

Still stands.

Posted by: John at December 22, 2003 9:44 PM

That's right, Paul--Vito Corleone--Wolfowitz.


Posted by: Barry Meislin at December 23, 2003 5:00 AM

What Jeff G and John said.

And that always makes me wonder about the people who hate "this administration" .... are they dull-witted, or just mis-informed? And, most important, can we take away their voter registration cards?

Posted by: Jeff Brokaw at December 23, 2003 8:04 AM


My first words were the opposite: "Oh no, the only grown-up in the administration is in South America"

I seem to have shifted my perspective some since then. There are still a lot of things I can't stand about Bush, but I have no patience for those who attack his foreign policy as short-sighted or rash.

Posted by: Jason Johnson at December 23, 2003 10:19 AM

I cringe to think who would sit in on a Dean administration. Yikes.

Posted by: BJW at December 23, 2003 10:20 AM