The Wolfowitz scandal has been rather opaque for me — beyond the sadly unsurprising news of a Bush administration official practicing cronyism, why is it such a big deal? The New Republic’s Michael Currie Schaffer does a great job of laying out the pragmatic case for seeing Wolfowitz’s missteps as a very serious blow to our national interests:
It’s one thing when some newly arrived hack from the Mississippi Republican Party staff starts feathering his nest via dubious Interior Department regulatory policies. Everyone knows the right loathes regulation in the first place; if that contempt slides into corruption every now and then, no one’s ideals are going to be shattered. But a guy like Wolfowitz–with his Ph.D. and his stirring talk of democratization and his sermons about the moral outrages of even a U.S.-backed dictator like Suharto–is something else entirely. Convenient as it may have been for his battered post-Pentagon reputation, he was right to focus on corruption when he arrived at the World Bank. So when he bungles the handling of a basic personnel matter, he cuts the legs out from underneath a worthy, desperately needed initiative–just like the high-profile lying, domestic mao-maoing, and battlefield ineptitude of the Iraq policy rubbished the noble ideals Wolfowitz espoused in his previous incarnation.