Turn out the lights, the Wolfowitz party is over

Looks like embattled World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz is the latest casualty of the George W. Bush "Brownie you're doing a heck of a job" syndrome.

After weeks of "unqualified" support, White House officials are now backing away from Wolfie faster than a champion horse at The Kentucky Derby.

Clearly, Wolfowitz's days are numbered.

Writes Peter S. Goodman of The Washington Post:

The Bush administration softened its support for World Bank President Paul D. Wolfowitz yesterday, signaling a willingness to replace him if the bank's executive board resolves an ethics controversy without firing him.

"All options are on the table," said White House spokesman Tony Snow, addressing reporters at a morning briefing. "Members of the board, Mr. Wolfowitz, need to sit down and figure out what is in fact going to be best for this bank. . . ."

The shift of tone at the White House, which nominated Wolfowitz for the post two years ago, is a blow to his struggle to save his job. It came a day after a bank investigating committee found that Wolfowitz broke ethics rules and damaged the integrity of the institution by engineering a large raise for his girlfriend, Shaha Riza, while keeping the bank's top legal adviser out of the loop.

Senior Bush administration officials emphasized that the White House has not abandoned Wolfowitz and does not believe he should be fired. But the White House has concluded, through conversations with counterparts in foreign capitals and from the committee report, that Wolfowitz can no longer effectively head the institution, the officials said, speaking on the condition they not be named because they lacked authorization to discuss the matter publicly.

"We've considered that this is an issue for people at the bank and our colleagues at other governments," a senior White House official said. "We'll engage in a discussion about the future leadership of the bank."