Thanks to the fact that we won World War II, the United States traditionally gets to pick the president of the World Bank. The deadline for nominations is Friday, and one question on everyone’s mind is whether Obama will nominate a non-American for the first time ever. Via Ezra Klein, Nancy Birdsall explained last month why this is unlikely even though there are some pretty good non-American candidates available:
Can the Obama White House in an election year, facing a Congress suspicious of a globally honored president, eschew pushing through its own American candidate? And anyway would a non-American at the helm in the World Bank be able to raise the resources on Capitol Hill that have already been committed in principle by the United States for the next several years? The election year timing puts the White House in an especially unenviable position. There is a risk that the World Bank could become a highly partisan, U.S. hot-button issue, as the UN has too often been.
Fine. But Hillary Clinton and John Kerry don’t want the job. Everyone thinks Larry Summers would be a disaster. The White House doesn’t like Jeffrey Sachs. Susan Rice doesn’t have a high enough profile. So who?
I recommend Tim Geithner. He’s got a high profile. He’s accustomed to inside politicking. Obama likes him. And it would get him out of the Treasury Department. What’s not to like?