Every now and then I feel called upon - these damned voices in my head - to correct some misguided, distorted view embraced by my fellow Americans. Now is such a time.
I have the strong impression, as well as the evidence of my own eyes and ears, that the public has been looking down its imperious nose, while the right honorable Paul Wolfowitz and his colleagues at the World Bank have been dancing their months-long minuet. Now that the dance is ending, I am here to tell you that you've gotten it all wrong.
Do you really think I haven't noticed your wide-eyed incredulity, not to mention your smirking disdain, as Mr. Wolfowitz has fought gallantly to preserve his heretofore immaculate name? The man has a reputation to preserve. Other mountains to climb. A future to consider.
Speaking of which, I have it on the highest authority that Mr. Wolfowitz has his eye on a stock clerk position at the Kinko's outlet opening in Petaluma next month. You might ask, why Kinko's? I direct your attention to the company's benefits policy, to wit: "Being a large, global company, we know employees have unique and diverse needs. That's why we've created a benefits package that provides flexible, customized coverage so that you can choose the options that best address you and your family's benefit needs."
Kinko's Office and Print Center division, in fact, makes a big point of listing, among its thirteen benefit categories, "domestic partner benefits." So, obviously, despite appearances, Mr. Wolfowitz has his eyes on the prize. Here's the catch: Kinko's, like so many large companies, insists that employees act ethically; mistakes are acceptable, but only if they are committed in good faith. This is not a spurious distinction, and it goes a long way toward explaining Mr. Wolfowitz's recent behavior.
What's more, he has a long history of setting the record straight. Does anybody here remember General Eric Shinseki? Apparently, the man thought his position as Secretary of the Army qualified him to comment on manpower needs for the Iraq war. Worse, when the Senate Armed Services Committee specifically asked him for his opinion, General Shinseki actually gave it! The knave. The scoundrel. The insolent popinjay.
It took the deputy Secretary of Defense to undo the damage that had been done. No, it would not take several hundred thousand troops, as General Shinseki had suggested; that estimate was "wildly off the mark." About 100,000 would do just fine, and for good reason: there was no risk of sectarian strife, since there was no history of it in Iraq, as there was in Bosnia and Kosovo. Moreover, exhibiting not only his grasp of military doctrine but also his acumen in all matters diplomatic, Mr. Wolfowitz clinched the case by pointing out that Iraqis would welcome the American-led liberators.
I may be wrong, but I sense that you're all coming around to a clearer understanding of what makes Wolfie run. 'Principle,' that's what. Back in 2003, he could have taken the cowardly route by dropping the Shinseki contretemps after the public scolding. But no. Despite his great affection for the general - as well as his love for all mankind - Mr. Wolfowitz sorrowfully engineered the reassignment of Shinseki to the scrap heap of history, where he obviously belongs.
As I say, principle has been the man's life-long guiding light. Besides, those stock clerk positions at Kinko's do not grow on trees.