Wolfowitz's self-created "cloud"

His lawyer says he'd rather be fired than quit. Who else can we think of who never admits he's wrong?

Published May 16, 2007 11:06PM (EDT)

ABC News is now reporting that Paul Wolfowitz's lawyer, presumably Robert Bennett, says he won't resign "under this cloud" and will push for a definitive vote by the World Bank board. If this is true, then Wolfowitz is blithely continuing to engage in exactly the behavior he was accused of earlier this week in the Second Report of the Ad Hoc Group of the World Bank.

The Group finds [Wolfowitz's] submission notable for the absence of any acceptance by Mr. Wolfowitz himself of responsibility or blame for the events that transpired. As President, he bore principal responsibility for safeguarding the institution and established the ethical standard to which staff would be expected to adhere. As noted in an earlier section of the report, he should have set the tone at the top. Instead, he casts himself as an intermediary between other seemingly larger forces. He saw his role as merely seeking to accommodate those forces. As noted above, this is in stark contrast to the role he had been selected to play as President of the World Bank. But even more to the point, it is in contrast to the events that actually occurred ... It evidences questionable judgment and a preoccupation with self-interest over institutional best interest.

Hmm. Who else do we know that never takes responsibility for his mistakes, and has demonstrated a consistent record of wantonly sacrificing the nation's best interest for partisan purposes? The name is on the tip of my tongue...

A commenter on an earlier post on Wolfowitz declared "l'affaire Riza" a "manufactured scandal" orchestrated by "Euro-bureaucrats" eager to use whatever lever available to pry the president out of his position. Although I think a careful reading of the Report of the Ad Hoc Group makes it pretty clear that Wolfowitz did break the rules -- his direct order to the vice-president of human resources, Xavier Coll, not to confer with the bank's general counsel on the legality of the sweet job package Wolfowitz demanded for Riza is especially damning -- I'll concede there's a kernel of truth to the accusation. If not for the greatly weakened political power of the Bush administration and everyone associated with the Iraq war, Wolfowitz would not be in the position he's in now. Perceived weakness and the smell of blood in the water can turn even a bunch of World Bank minnows into a raging pack of great white sharks.

Karma's a bitch, ain't it? Because if Bush and Rove and Wolfowitz and all the rest of them hadn't inflicted their my-way-or-the-highway slash-and-burn tactics on the world, utterly alienating everyone on the planet who disagreed with them, and saddling them with the full and irrevocable responsibility for every disaster that has happened on their watch, the Republicans wouldn't have lost control of Congress last November, Democrats wouldn't be humiliating Albert Gonzales on a daily basis, and Paul Wolfowitz most likely would win his game of chicken with the bank. And this is only the beginning. History won't be kind.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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