The tweet of the week (on the WB presidency, of course)

From @JustinSandefur:

#WB race = strange bedfellows: free-market economists 4 3rd world democracy vs pub health humanitarians 4 US imperialism?

That captures it precisely. I’ve been deeply discouraged by the rampant tribalism in the debate.

Yes the public health people like Kim for substantive reasons: they would like to see the Bank focus more on health (not always addressing whether it makes sense for the Bank’s mission). And yes the economists have substantive reasons as well: they think Banks are better run by people familiar with banking.

Even so, I can’t help but feel that identity has crowded out substance.

The unfortunate thing: substantive arguments also miss the point. The Bank’s long run mission–whether it’s health or finance, or decided by “humane” or “financial” development people–is not served by the system of appointment by US Presidential fiat. Don’t let your short term interests get in the way of your long term ones.

Kim is smart and qualified, and there are many good reasons not to have a business-as-usual Bank President, even one in health. But if you find yourself supporting his candidacy on such substantive grounds: congratulations, you have successfully succumbed to Obama’s strategy for maintaining imperial control of one the world’s most influential institutions.

A sympathetic and noble candidate is not a coincidence. It is a red herring. It’s been in the sun for a few weeks, however, and it is starting to stink even to those who didn’t smell it at first. It’s time to throw it out.