This is almost too perfect.
Paul Wolfowitz (AP photo by Yves Logghe), along with Richard Perle one of the main architects of the Iraq invasion and shoved upstairs to be President of the World Bank, may be about to lose his job for using his influence to get his girlfriend a job in the Bush Administration for which she was, shall we say, marginally qualified. Brought before a World Bank investigating committee, Wolfie promptly blamed…the World Bank.
In a 10-page statement addressed to the chairman of the investigating committee, Wolfowitz reiterated his assertion that he was merely following the instructions of the bank’s ethics committee when he arranged a job transfer and substantial pay raise for his companion, Shaha Riza, shortly after arriving at the bank.
But in a new characterization, Wolfowitz asserted that the ethics dispute, far from an indictment of him personally, amounts to a shared institutional breakdown. He portrayed the crisis as a misunderstanding — the product of decent intentions gone awry, combined with vague and dubious bank rules.
“While I am prepared to acknowledge that we all acted in good faith at the time and there was perhaps some confusion and miscommunication among us, it is grossly unfair and wrong to suggest that I intended to mislead anyone, and I urge the committee to reject the allegation that I lack credibility,” Wolfowitz wrote. “Rather than attempt to adjudicate between our conflicting interpretations of the events that occurred here, the board should recognize that this situation is the product of ambiguous bank rules and unclear governance mechanisms.”
Amazing, isn’t it? The president of one of the most complex financial organizations in the world didn’t realize that nepotism was wrong because the WB’s ethics rules confused him.
There are two things you can say about the conservative American oligarchy and their elitist enablers that are undeniably true.
- There is no bottom to their greed. They want it all, and they want it without so much as a smell of accompanying responsibility or risk.
- They can’t tell right from wrong without a scorecard.
Maybe that’s why corporations and the out-of-control rich don’t like rules: they don’t understand them.
I mean, they really don’t, especially ethics rules. They don’t get it at all. Look at the parade of pathetic excuses for public servants who have testified in Congress over the firing of the Gonzales 12 in the light of James Comey’s appearance Thursday. Comey testified the way most people do: he told the Committee what he remembered with as much detail as possible. Keep that in mind as we reprise the Bushies’ testimony.
- There was Kyle Sampson, who claimed to be just an “aggregator”. He said he collected names for the firing list but couldn’t usually remember who’d given him the name or when or why the name was added. Asked about the process, he said it didn’t exist: it was a file thrown into his drawer with nothing but names on it – no explanations, no referrals, no record of contacts or discussions with either the USA’s involved or Gonzales or McNulty or anybody else. He said “I don’t remember”, “I can’t recall”, or “I don’t know” 70-odd times in the course of the day.
- Comey’s successor as Dep AG, Paul McNulty, has changed his story three times so far and now claims to have been totally out of the loop. He says he was told about the list but never offered a name for it and didn’t know who was on it.
- Ditto William Moschella, the “principal associate deputy attorney general” responsible for the firings.
- Finally, of course, Gonzo himself, who couldn’t remember anything anybody ever said to him, the substance of any meetings he had ever attended, when or why he made the decisions he made, what the firing process amounted to or even if there was one (though he was sure it was “proper”), and when asked direct questions, beat around the bush (no pun intended, but if it works for you…) in his answers so decisively that they were almost incoherent. He used some version of “I don’t recall” 80+ times in the course of the day, 54 times in the morning session alone.
Contrast all that dodging, ducking, and disingenuous doubletalk with Comey, who, when asked a yes or no question, responded – wait for it – “yes” or “no”; who remembered 6-month-old discussions in at least enough detail to tell the Committee who he had them with and what was, roughly, said; who could describe quite clearly the process he followed the only two times he fired a USA; and who did NOT say “I can’t recall” even once, so far as I know.
For the oligarchs and their sycophantic conservative hangers-on, rules are for other people. Wolfie really doesn’t see that he did anything wrong or understand that the fact he doesn’t know if something is wrong until there’s a rule written to explain it to him (and it better be simple or he’ll get confused, apparently) is a pretty serious character flaw. None of the DoJ Bushies seems to get the fact that the Congress has a right to demand answers and that they have a duty to answer them. Sen Whitehouse actually had to explain to Gonzo why non-partisanship and integrity were important to the country and Justice in short words and sentences. It was sort of like listening to a parent instructing a kid as to why putting his finger in a light-socket was a bad idea.
Gonzales still didn’t get it. The concept of integrity seemed a foreign one, from out of left field. He all but replied by asking, “So? What’s that got to do with anything?”
Conservatives don’t like rules because they restrict the ability to a) make as much money as possible by any means necessary, fair or foul, and b) abuse the power that money gives them. To the rich, having money means they’ve earned the right to do anything they want: cheat, steal, lie, exploit, abuse, endanger, appropriate, accumulate, and tell everybody else to go to hell. They don’t believe in democratic rules intended to level the playing field because they don’t want a level playing field or believe it ought to be leveled. They believe all playing fields should be so severely tilted in their favor that everything good will flow uphill and everything bad will drown the peasants on the bottom.
Faced with the consequences of wholesale rule-breaking in a democratic society, they either claim they were trying to obey the rules but were confused by them like Wolfowitz, or they simply ignore them like Gonzo and the White House. It’s a measure of their hypocrisy that they use the very rules they claim to hate as a way of getting out from under the consequences of breaking them.