Thursday, May 17, 2007

Paul Wolfowitz and the Bush Governing Style

Yesterday, I pointed out that former Bush Pentagon offical Paul Wolfowitz was never much of an administrator and that his problems as president of the World Bank stem in part from his adoption of the Bush style of governing. The following post by Steve Clemons in The Washington Note naturally caught my interest:
Many officials in the Bank did not like Wolfowitz because of his central role in designing, planning and launching the Iraq War. But had the former Deputy Secretary of Defense come into the Bank with a compelling plan for global economic development that built on the strengths and addressed some of the weaknesses of the Bank's relative skill sets, a relationship of mutual trust and respect, even if grudging, would have taken root.

Even one of Wolfowitz's closest friends and the not-often discussed third political appointee (the other two were the more controversial Kevin Kellems and Robin Cleveland) brought in by Wolfowitz, Karl Jackson, has reportedly told numerous World Bank and diplomatic pals of his that "Paul has no plan. Everything is ad hoc, reactive -- first we go this way, then we go that." If his friends are saying that, imagine what Wolfowitz's enemies think.

And in this sad public battle over whether Wolfowitz acted appropriately or not regarding the employment options, compensation, and performance evaluations of his girlfriend, Wolfowitz also seemed to operate in exactly the mode Jackson describes -- without a plan, reactive, ad hoc, first this way and then that.

Yep, that's very much the Bush style of governing and amplifies what I wrote yesterday. I should also point out something I have mentioned in the past and that columnist Jules Witcover (formerly of the Baltimore Sun) mentioned four years ago: there's a Nixonian streak in the Bush presidency that's obvious for anyone honest enough to see it. I've been convinced for a long time that the Bush inner circle, Cheney and Rumsfeld in particular because of their history, were determined to out-Nixon Nixon in terms of overreaching presidential power and in terms of politicizing the White House. It should be noted by the way that the authoritarian mediocrities that are speaking in the Republican presidential debates keep trying to wrap themselves in the mantle of Ronald Reagan but it's the ghost of Nixon and his McCarthyite past whose dark visage haunts the stage.

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