This NYT article is a thing of beauty. Not because it's great reporting, mind you. Not even because it makes Paul Wolfowitz look bad. But because it's such a remarkable case of a leaked article designed to send a clear message. The message? Fire Wolfowitz now, or lose the World Bank presidency.
It starts by delivering the completely unsurprising verdict of the World Bank's internal review.
A committee of World Bank directors has formally notified Paul D. Wolfowitz that they found him to be guilty of a conflict of interest in arranging for a pay raise and promotion for Shaha Ali Riza, his companion, in 2005. The findings stepped up the pressure on Mr. Wolfowitz to resign.
Then it issues the first implicit threat: there's a whole lot of evidence in the World Bank report that could become public if the Bank has to push this further.
The contents of the panel’s findings were not made public. People who are familiar with the panel’s report said that it reviewed extensive documents and testimony before concluding that Mr. Wolfowitz breached his obligations in arranging for Ms. Riza’s reassignment from the bank to the State Department.
Then there are a couple of blathering paragraphs that lay out some of the options: The committee will issue a vote of no confidence. Or, the entire board will vote to get rid of him--and it's clear a majority already opposes Wolfowitz.
It was not clear whether the committee, consisting of 7 of the bank’s 24 board members, would remove Mr. Wolfowitz from his post or, more likely, express a loss of confidence in his leadership in a manner that might persuade him to resign. Bank officials say that a majority of the bank board has concluded that he should go.
Or, Wolfie can go quietly.
If that message isn't clear enough, later in the article, Weisman's sources telegraph precisely what the vote might be.
Bank officials say that as of now, only the United States, Japan and Canada would vote in favor of Mr. Wolfowitz. They represent less than 30 percent of the voting shares. Most other directors are reported to be willing to vote against Mr. Wolfowitz, though some countries, mainly in Africa, are said to be wavering.
That is, it wouldn't even be close.
The article then notes that Wolfowitz aide Kevin Kellems, no doubt sensing the end and/or responding to explicit messages, has taken the hint and left the Bank.
And then the coup de grace. The threat that either Wolfowitz goes, or the American presidency of the World Bank goes.
European officials at the bank said that if Mr. Wolfowitz resigns, either now or some time in the future, Europeans may be willing to let the United States continue to exercise its customary prerogative of choosing the next bank president.
A senior European official said that Europeans have informally told Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. that many of their governments, some of whom asked for the custom to be discarded in 2005, would now renew their demand, especially if Mr. Wolfowitz is forced out by a vote of the bank board.
Gosh, this is almost clear enough for Bush to understand. Scratch that. Almost clear enough for close Bush associates to understand like ... like ... geez, I hope they can read this message!
Really, this article is just another shameless NYT leak-based article, using the Times as a mouthpiece to wage diplomatic and PR battles. Nothing to laud the NYT for, mind you. But whatever Europeans lie behind this carefully crafted article, it shows a good deal of panache.
Now let's see if the Administration--and Dick Cheney--are so obstinate and deaf they refuse even to hear this kind of message.