The Woes of the Power Couple

THE WOES OF THE POWER COUPLE….I can’t say I feel that sorry for Paul Wolfowitz, and that’s mainly because he’s, well, Paul Wolfowitz. That said, I’m not yet persuaded that his alleged string-pulling for his girlfriend, Shaha Riza, an employee at the World Bank, amounts to something that requires his resignation. (Several newspapers have now demanded it, and the White House is underscoring its “full confidence” in Wolfowitz. Can the end be far?) The first accusation, that he improperly secured favorable employment and pay for Riza, seems undercut by documents showing that he consulted with the bank’s board at the time about how to deal with the situation. The second, that he effectively arranged for Riza to take a “junket” to Iraq in 2003, seems to be less of a sin since she took no money for the trip.

But there’s no doubt that Riza should have told her bosses at the bank about her relationship to Wolfowitz when she decided to go to Iraq, and her supervisors are understandably displeased. Also, all of this strengthens, if I may say so, the point of my piece on DC power couples: that keeping Washington’s little secrets about who’s hitched to whom just makes everyone look bad, and that, yes, disclosure (plus banning those damn lobbyist-legislator unions) is the way to deal with it. In Slate, Christopher Hitchens, defending Wolfowitz and his girlfriend, speculates that “it could be that two grown-up people, both with previous marriages and with growing children, did not feel much like undergoing yet another round of ‘disclosure.'” An understandable feeling, but wouldn’t that have been preferable to what they’re undergoing now?