Thursday, March 16, 2006

Why I still like Dr. Wolfowitz

If we had a personnel system that wasn’t so rigidly mortibund, perhaps he would have done something like Churchill on 15 NOV 1915, but alas, he can’t. In my book though, this works.
What they don't hear much about are the quiet events and private meetings that often take place in the Oval Office between President George W. Bush and military families. Or the Friday-night steak dinners local restaurateurs throw for wounded vets from Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.
I happened upon a large dining room filled with about 125 people, including many wounded soldiers in wheelchairs or on crutches. I also noticed a couple of suits by the door wearing wires.

I introduced myself and asked who in the room required security. They weren't in the mood to say, apparently, but suggested that I'd probably be able to figure it out. In a room full of camouflage and amputees, it was easy to spot a man in a dark suit casually grasping a Corona neck.
The man in business attire was Dr. Paul Wolfowitz, former deputy defense secretary and now head of the World Bank. ... you can find Wolfowitz here most Friday nights -- at least twice a month -- meeting with the wounded and hearing their stories. No fanfare or fuss, which is why many outside of Washington don't know about it.
The family comes too.
Sgt. Edward Wade, who has been traveling between his home in Chapel Hill, N.C., and Walter Reed for the two years since his "alive day" -- what wounded soldiers call the day they didn't die -- was less fortunate. He lost his right arm when an IED exploded and suffered enough brain damage that he wasn't expected to live.

His spunky wife, Sarah, does most of the talking and has high praise for Wolfowitz. "Of all the people, Dr. Wolfowitz is the first who has met the faces of the people who were wounded in the war," she said. ". . . He's more the student now. He learns from us."
Things come to mind like ”Action walks, bullshit talks...” or what Papa Salamander taught me, “Son, I don’t care what they say, watch what they do.”
Whatever one may observe with 20/20 hindsight, any appraisal of Wolfowitz is incomplete without a visit to Fran O'Brien's on Friday nights. There you might also bump into the Wades and hear that on Feb. 14, they were celebrating the second anniversary of Edward's "alive day" when the telephone rang.

It was Dr. Wolfowitz.
Bravo Zulu.

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