Mississippi, Mo Dowd, and Me

April 14, 2007 by susan

by susan
It was a beautiful day for hanging the laundry. So beautiful that we failed to do the wash which is required before hanging. Instead we walked along the spring-swollen Mississippi and across the Stone Arch bridge, showing off our dirty little city to our son and his girlfriend who are visiting from LA.

Yeah, dirty. It's always that way in April. So we point up to the gleaming new Guthrie and the zillion dollar condos, and down to the excavated mill ruins which explain why Minneapolis is where it is, and try to avoid all that mid-level detritus of winter. But with the trees barely in bud, the sun takes on a harsh burn and illuminates the grit and stains of road salt, the wrappers, bottles and old shoes on the river bank, the roiling effluvia of the river itself, flushing the great northern bogs and fens of their winter muck.

And if you're me, who somehow feels responsible for every thing unpleasant, whether the annoyance of a passing cloud or the second term of the boy king, you find yourself tempering your proud pitch about the merits of this funky arty place with apologies for how grubby it looks in April -- and keep looking over your shoulder at the river, hoping a dead cow or carp doesn't swirl by. One didn't.

But back to the laundry. In lieu of anything of our own, let me refer you to Mo Dowd today. Sometimes she's too snippy and clever by half for my taste, but today she does a job on Wolfie.

She opens her column, called More Con than Neo, with this:

"Usually, spring in Washington finds us caught up in the cherry blossoms and the ursine courtship rituals of the pandas.

But this chilly April, we are forced to contemplate the batrachian grapplings of Paul Wolfowitz, the man who cherry-picked intelligence to sell us a war with Iraq.

You will not be surprised to learn, gentle readers, that Wolfie in love is no less deceptive and bumbling than Wolfie at war.

Proving he is more con than neo, he confessed that he had not been candid with his staff at the World Bank. While he was acting holier than thou, demanding incorruptibility from poor countries desperate for loans, he was enriching his girlfriend with tax-free ducats."

There's more -- but read for yourselves. I've got more off this city to show off, and the light's fading.

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Comments

Anonymous (not verified) | April 14, 2007 - 7:42pm

Indeed. When Mo's not picking on one of our own, she's truly on. But what does "batrachian" mean?
In addition to all his foibles on the international scene, Wolfie's so.........oh never mind; since the Imus flap, I've promised not to pick on people for their looks.

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Babs (not verified) | April 14, 2007 - 8:10pm

Well, then, how 'bout smarmy?

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susan | April 15, 2007 - 12:09am

How about batrachian, which, I believe, is frog-like. Which, in fact, is a comment on his looks. . It was the spit in the comb and the slicking back the hair in Michael Moore's Farenheit 911 that put his looks into play.

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Dave (not verified) | April 16, 2007 - 9:50am

I'll just have to wait till the Strib buys Mo's pierce, since the times went pay per view on opinions. At any rate, i too find spring in MN dirty, dusty and inhospitable, more con than neo.

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susan | April 16, 2007 - 11:03am

The buggers! Well, here it is then. Looks prettier on their fancy page, but the words are the same.
*******

More Con than Neo
by Maureen Dowd

Usually, spring in Washington finds us caught up in the cherry blossoms and the ursine courtship rituals of the pandas.

But this chilly April, we are forced to contemplate the batrachian grapplings of Paul Wolfowitz, the man who cherry-picked intelligence to sell us a war with Iraq.

You will not be surprised to learn, gentle readers, that Wolfie in love is no less deceptive and bumbling than Wolfie at war.

Proving he is more con than neo, he confessed that he had not been candid with his staff at the World Bank. While he was acting holier than thou, demanding incorruptibility from poor countries desperate for loans, he was enriching his girlfriend with tax-free ducats.

He has yet to admit any real mistakes with the hellish war that claimed five more American soldiers as stunned Baghdad residents dealt with the aftermath of bombings of the Iraqi Parliament, where body parts flew, and of a bridge over the Tigris, where cars sank.

But he admitted on Thursday that he’d made a mistake when he got his sweetheart, Shaha Ali Riza, an Arab feminist who shares his passion for democratizing the Middle East, a raise to $193,590 — more than the taxpaying (and taxing) Condi Rice makes. No doubt it seemed like small change compared with the money pit of remaking Iraq — a task he once prophesied would be paid for with Iraqi oil money. Maybe he should have remunerated his girlfriend with Iraqi oil revenues, instead of ripping off the bank to advance his romantic agenda.

No one is satisfied with his apology. Not the World Bank employees who booed Wolfie and yelled, “Resign! Resign!” in the bank lobby.

Not Alison Cave, the chairwoman of the bank’s staff association, who said that Mr. Wolfowitz must “act honorably and resign.”

Not his girlfriend, who says she’s the suffering victim, forced by Wolfie’s arrival to be sent to the State Department (where, in a festival of nepotism, she reported to Liz Cheney).

And not his critics, who say Wolfie has been cherry-picking again, this time with his anticorruption crusade. They say he has used it to turn the bank into a tool for his unrealistic democracy campaign, which foundered in Baghdad, and for punishing countries that defy the United States.

Wolfie also alienated the bank by bringing two highhanded aides with him from Bushworld, aides who had helped him with Iraq. One was the abrasive Robin Cleveland, called Wolfie’s Rottweiler. The other was Kevin Kellems, known as Keeper of the Comb after his star turn in “Fahrenheit 9/11,” where he handed his boss a comb so Wolfie could slick it with spittle for TV. (Maybe his girlfriend didn’t get enough of a raise.) Like W., Wolfie is dangerous precisely because he’s so persuaded of his own virtue.

Just as Ms. Riza stood behind her man on the Iraq fiasco, so Meghan O’Sullivan stood behind W.

Ms. O’Sullivan, a bright and lovely 37-year-old redhead who is the deputy national security adviser, is part of the cordon of adoring and protective women around the president, including Condi, Harriet Miers, Karen Hughes and Fran Townsend.

Even though her main experience was helping Paul Bremer set up the botched Iraq occupation and getting a reputation back in Washington “for not knowing how much she didn’t know,” as George Packer put it in “The Assassins’ Gate,” Ms. O’Sullivan was promoted nearly two years ago to be the highest-ranking White House official working exclusively on Iraq and Afghanistan.

It was clear that she was out of her depth, lacking the heft to deal with the Pentagon and State Department, or the seniority to level with W. “Meghan-izing the problem” became a catchphrase in Baghdad for papering over chaos with five-point presentations.

But W. was comfortable with Meghan, and Meghan-izing, so he reckoned that a young woman who did not report directly to him or even have the power to issue orders to agencies could be in charge of an epic bungle, just as he thought Harriet Miers could be on the Supreme Court.

This vacuum in leadership spawned the White House plan to create a powerful war czar to oversee Iraq and Afghanistan, who could replace Ms. O’Sullivan when she leaves. The push to finally get the A-team on the case is laughably, tragically late.

The Washington Post reported that at least five retired four-star generals have refused to be considered; the paper quoted retired Marine Gen. Jack Sheehan as saying, “The very fundamental issue is, they don’t know where the hell they’re going.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

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