Today's Blogs

Rue Paul

Bloggers debate the merits of the ethics scandal surrounding Paul Wolfowitz. They also react to Dick Cheney’s surprise visit to Iraq.

Rue Paul: The odds of embattled World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz keeping his job look grim. The bank’s executive board, ruling on allegations of unethical conduct in Wolfowitz’s handling of his girlfriend Shaha Riza’s reassignment and salary package, released a draft of its report Wednesday. With an international chorus demanding Wolfowitz’s resignation, bloggers weigh the evidence—and ramifications—of the case against him.

Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings, the “voice of moderation,” writes: “It’s beyond obvious that large chunks of the World Bank staff, not to mention its directors, have lost confidence in Paul Wolfowitz. Whether this is fair or unfair is beside the point: in either case, it means that he cannot run the Bank effectively. Moreover, he will have a very hard time insisting that other countries sign up for his anticorruption campaign when he broke the Bank’s rules.”

Liberal David Corn, the Washington editor of The Nation, offers an inside tip on his own blog and speculates that Wolfowitz’s “hard-line defense” could make it tough for him to keep his job: “One Bank official told me there had been pressure applied from the top–from either Wolfowitz or his aides–on a Bank employment board considering that promotion for Riza. Perhaps the panel investigating Wolfowitz had to examine this and other matters. Bank watchers have also identified other potential problems, including the legality of her transfer from the Bank to the State Department.”

Joerg Wolf at Atlantic Review wonders if the Wolfowitz affair really should spell the end of the United States’ privilege in being allowed to pick the World Bank president: “If the US has to give up its right to appoint the World Bank president, then the EU has to give up its right to appoint the managing director of the International Monetary Fund. … I guess, in the long run, neither the US nor the EU will continue to have the power to appoint the heads of these international institutions.”

Here’s conservative Eric Rasmusen’s * theory on what went down: “Mr. Wolfowitz was ready to leave the Defense Dept. and was looking for an interesting job. His friend Miss Riza had told him of widespread corruption in the World Bank. … Naturally, the Wolfowitz move scared the corrupt people at the World Bank, since they could guess that Riza had told him lots of stories and that the two aides were there to help him deal with disloyal insiders. They decided to at least get Riza out of the Bank so he would lose his inside source.”

Righty Cassandra at Villainous Company concludes: “Ms. Riza, an exceptionally well-qualified female employee, was forced to withdraw her name from a shortlist of candidates for a better paid position within the Bank. On the recommendation of the Ethics Committee she was transferred outside the World Bank; a move she did not want to make as she would have preferred to remain right where she was… So for the crime of having a private, consensual sexual relationship, two unmarried people who never lied about their affair and bent over backwards to comply with World Bank regulations and the recommendations of the Ethics committee are being crucified in the press. So much for the cries of the uber-progressive community that sex is a private matter!”

Read more about Wolfowitz’s travails. Christopher Hitchens defended Wolfowitz in Slate, while this “Hot Document” looks at a letter calling for Wolfowitz’s resignation.

Cheney in Baghdad: In a surprise 12-hour stopover in Baghdad, Vice President Dick Cheney signaled the need for wide political reforms within the Iraqi government to assist the ongoing military operations. The buzz phrase to emerge from the notoriously gruff veep was: “It’s game time, let’s go.”

Steve Soto at The Left Coaster observes: “Despite the official line that the media will willingly stenograph today, this trip was prompted in part because the White House now knows despite renewed veto threats, there will be GOP support of some type for Iraqi benchmarks in the supplemental appropriation bill. … I suspect that another, unofficial reason for [Cheney’s] trip is to demand that al-Maliki get the current draft of the Oil Law passed…”

At the Wall Street Journal’s political-analysis blog, Washington Wire, Yochi J. Dreazen reports on the journo-hostile aura of the trip: “Cheney appeared to reserve his toughest language for his normal target – the press. Cheney held a lot of photo ops with key Iraqi leaders like Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, but was adamant about not taking questions. … Later in the day, as reporters filed into an embassy conference room for another photo of Cheney they overheard him tell his staff ‘then we kick the press out.’ “

Liberal Steve Benen at The Carpetbagger Report says the no-press antics were vintage Cheney: “Apparently, journalists on hand for Cheney’s second visit to Iraq thought it might be a good time to ask questions of the man who helps shape war policy. The nerve.”

“Undisclosed location” is the rule when the veep travels abroad, to which D.C. snark rag Wonkette rejoinders: “Due to everyone in Iraq wanting to kill him, the White House is demanding that the news networks stop saying where Dick Cheney is staying in Baghdad. We won’t say it either, because we don’t want to be the next dead animal on Cheney’s lawn, but we will say that he’s obviously at that one place where U.S. officials go when they go to Baghdad — and we aren’t talking about that market where Walnuts McCain caused so much death and destruction.”

Read more about Cheney’s Iraq pop-in.

Correction, May 10, 2007: This article originally misspelled Rasmusen’s name. (Return to corrected sentence.)