President Bush has infuriated liberal Democrats and other leftists by nominating John Bolton as ambassaor to the United Nations and Paul Wolfowitz as head of the World Bank. The opposition to Bolton’s nomination is rational. Bolton’s statements about the U.N. are quite controversial, and therefore it makes sense that his nomination is also controversial. Should our representative to the U.N. be someone who takes such a dim view of that organization? I think so. But I also understand the presumption to the contrary.
The Wolfowitz nomination is a different matter. Wolfowitz has a long history of supporting the World Bank’s goals and objectives, and no history of disparaging that organization in any fundamental way. If one reads the second half of this Washington Post story, it becomes clear that Wolfowitz is an excellent fit for the job.
The opposition to Wolfowitz is based not on his qualifications or issues of “fit,” but on his role in helping to formulate administration policy on Iraq and, more generally, Middle East democratization. And the intensity of that oppostion is based on the left’s distorted view of that role. In the left’s cosmology, administration policy has been hijacked by dreaded neo-conservatives with Jewish sounding names like Wolfowitz. Thus, the left (and the many Democratic politicians under its sway) views Wolfowitz as too evil to run the World Bank or, more precisely, too evil to be rewarded with any position (much of the left holds the World Bank in lower regard than John Bolton holds the U.N.). In short, the oppostion to Wolfowitz stems from the Democrats’ new role as the “permanent opposition,” not from any good faith concern about the future of the World Bank.
Nothing lasts forever. But the more the Democrats engage in this sort of posturing, the more permanent their opposition status is likely to be.
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