Hillary for president
My hands-down pick for best rumor of the week goes to the story that Hillary Clinton would like to be next president of the World Bank. While some folks I spoke to suggested it might be true, according to today’s Washington Post, Secretary Clinton has officially and unequivocally shot down the story. Too bad. It ...
My hands-down pick for best rumor of the week goes to the story that Hillary Clinton would like to be next president of the World Bank. While some folks I spoke to suggested it might be true, according to today's Washington Post, Secretary Clinton has officially and unequivocally shot down the story. Too bad. It is one of those stories that is so good it ought to be true. It makes so much sense I hope she'll reconsider.
My hands-down pick for best rumor of the week goes to the story that Hillary Clinton would like to be next president of the World Bank. While some folks I spoke to suggested it might be true, according to today’s Washington Post, Secretary Clinton has officially and unequivocally shot down the story. Too bad. It is one of those stories that is so good it ought to be true. It makes so much sense I hope she’ll reconsider.
First, the story is good because it has strong internal logic. Secretary Clinton has stated repeatedly that she expects to leave her current post by or before the end of the first term of the Obama administration. Given her great success as secretary of state, her high level of energy, and the contributions she can continue to make going forward, she will need to move to a suitable next position. Nothing could be better suited to her commitment to development issues, women’s issues, education, and related concerns than the top job at the World Bank.
Further, the administration seems to have been moving recently toward seeking to uphold tradition by advocating that the World Bank presidency remain with an American. They had been wavering on this, but Bob Zoellick, current bank president and a man whom many believe would like to hold on to the job, has been making a strong case around town that a non-U.S. president would be a nonstarter if the bank wants the support of the U.S. Congress. And it does.
Next, the story is appealing because it would be so good for the bank. Clinton would easily be the highest-profile president of the World Bank in its history, edging out Robert McNamara, and she comes with none of his baggage and a worldview that dovetails beautifully with the bank’s mission. She would energize the place and immediately give the bank a more central role on the international stage simply by virtue of the attention she would attract and the political gifts and relationships she would bring to the job.
Finally, while I am a strong advocate of righting the wrongs within the international financial institutions in terms of the way they underrepresent in their leadership structure many of the world’s most important populations, the most underrepresented group by far are women. Having a woman as president of the bank would therefore be a big step forward and having perhaps the most important advocate for women’s rights on the planet in that job would be an even bigger plus. The prospect of having women run both the IMF and the World Bank — given the likely ascension of Christine Lagarde to the IMF top job — is very exciting, a long-overdue opportunity for the majority population on the planet to be more appropriately represented at the head table of the planet’s political structure.
It would also be a big win for the Obama administration. Clinton would be an extremely effective advocate for the president’s agenda and, in all likelihood, a legacy appointment that would continue doing good for years after this administration is over. Further, it provides both an excellent exit for a top cabinet member, a chance for her to continue to be involved in key international issues, and opens up the big suite on the seventh floor at the State Department to be occupied by the likes of Sen. John Kerry.
Kerry is a fascinating story in his own right, a man best known today for a not-terribly-glorious performance as a presidential candidate who, since that moment, rather than fading away, has redoubled his work ethic and grown greatly as a leader and a foreign-policy thinker. The Clinton-Kerry shuffle would end up strengthening the president’s ability to achieve his long-term international goals and, in the end, would likely be one with considerable appeal around the world.
From the perspective of those policies, it is very likely that the second term of the Obama administration will see a foreign policy much more focused on economic issues than security questions. It will be one in which many of the biggest issues will involve promoting stability through promoting growth and job creation (interesting how that resonates with the likely domestic agenda, isn’t it?). Whether in the rapidly changing Arab world or in specific flashpoints like the Palestinian territories; whether in seeking stability as America pulls out of Iraq and Afghanistan, or in seeking to address the festering and potentially greater security challenges in Africa or Pakistan; whether in continuing to foster critical growth among aspirant populations in China, India, southeast Asia or Latin America; or whether promoting sustainable solutions that help combat climate change or the spread of disease, the role of the World Bank and the development community will play its most important role in U.S. foreign policy since the first post World War II days, when it was created.
Further, there are other places like North Korea and Cuba where possible political upheavals may call for rapid economic responses… much as disasters also certainly will. In all these areas, having a strong partner at the bank will be especially important to President Obama… and having strong leadership at the bank will be especially important to the world.
For all these reasons, the Clinton to the World Bank rumor is an exciting one, and we should all hope it comes to fruition. I have long thought Hillary Clinton would make an excellent president, and this should be one instance in which Barack Obama should agree.
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