In the real world, it takes about a week for someone who has disgraced himself like radio talk-show host Don Imus to lose his job. In Washington, World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales hang on to their jobs for what seems like forever.
Wolfowitz was caught dissembling about how his girlfriend, World Bank employee Shaha Riza, got a raise that was double the size allowed and a guarantee of glowing reviews when she moved from the bank to the State Department to avoid cronyism charges. His legal team was unwilling to bend the rules, so he took it upon himself to dictate the terms.
Petty corruption is never good but is particularly bad for Wolfowitz, who has made ending corruption in foreign countries his signature mission.
Of course, nailing Wolfowitz for that is a little like getting Al Capone for tax evasion. Yet it's better than letting the architect of the war in Iraq and peddler of all its false pretenses get off scot-free and with a plum job to boot. After all, the Medal of Freedom was awarded to others incriminated in the Iraq debacle.
The World Bank post comes with a good salary, even higher prestige, sway over finance ministers and the opportunity to do good if you do the job well. It's not a place to park a former Pentagon official whose cockeyed zeal to reshape the Middle East will have Americans dying in Iraq for years to come.
Wolfowitz, already unpopular among many of the bank's 13,000 employees for his high-handed manner and hiring of unqualified cronies, was booed last week as he tried to address the staff. With the bank's normally reticent oversight committee, which includes finance ministers, expressing "great concern'' about him, it's unlikely Wolfowitz will be able to raise the billions needed to replenish the lending fund anytime soon.
Read the whole column at Bloomberg.