The Corner

Politics & Policy

About Heidi

Heidi Cruz applauding for her husband, Ted, as he campaigned in South Carolina on February 19, 2016 (Joshua Roberts / Reuters)

By tradition, the U.S. president selects the president of the World Bank, and Donald Trump has just selected David Malpass. I’m sure he’ll do a fine job. Just FYI — because I’m doing a personal post — I knew his father-in-law, the great Obie (Herman J. Obermayer).

Trump interviewed Heidi Cruz for the job. She was among the candidates. Wait, what? Yes. But wasn’t there some unpleasantness between Trump and the Cruzes back in ’16? Yes. Is Heidi Cruz plausible as a World Bank president? Again, yes.

I have known her for almost 20 years. You’re entitled to take what I say with a grain of salt. But it will be true nevertheless.

Heidi Cruz is not just wife-of — although there is nothing wrong with being wife-of, or husband-of. Often, those are the most important roles on earth. In any case, Heidi has had a high-flying economic, financial, and political career for many years now. The public may not know this, but there might come a time when they do …

I will not recite her entire résumé (which is long); I’ll just provide some basics. Harvard MBA. Bush presidential campaign, 2000. (That’s where she and Ted met.) Assistant to Robert Zoellick, the U.S. trade rep (and later president of the World Bank, as it happened). Director of the Office of Latin America and the Caribbean at the Treasury Department. Economic director for the Western Hemisphere at the National Security Council.

And investment banking — with Merrill Lynch and J.P. Morgan and, starting in 2005, Goldman Sachs. Heidi is now a managing director.

So, those are some credentials, or experiences. But also: Heidi is the daughter of missionaries. She did some of her growing up in Africa. She has done missions elsewhere. So what? So this: The World Bank is supposed to combat poverty in the Third World. And Heidi has “a heart for the poor,” as they say. Also, she is a free-marketeer: an advocate of entrepreneurship, property rights, and the other elements of liberalism (properly understood). Nothing is more effective against poverty.

Frankly, Heidi strikes me as a natural president of the World Bank. I could brag on, but I will turn to others. I’m going to publish three encomia — blurby and PR-y, but no less true for that.

The first comes from Tim Adams, who is the president and CEO of the Institute of International Finance. He was undersecretary of the Treasury for international affairs. Like me, he has known Heidi for about 20 years, and he has worked with her. He says, “Heidi would have been an excellent choice to the lead the World Bank. She is incredibly smart and has abundant, tireless energy.”  Etc.

John Taylor, too, was undersecretary of the Treasury for international affairs. Heidi served as a senior adviser to him. Today, he is at the Hoover Institution. He says, “Heidi has spent decades in international finance and knows the ins and outs of global markets, banking, and economic development in a way few people do. She is already a leader in her field and will continue to be a leader in promoting economic growth and poverty reduction around the world.”

Finally, I give you Carly Fiorina: “Heidi and I became friends in one of the most pressure-filled situations imaginable — a presidential campaign. You learn a lot about someone in a pressure cooker. Heidi is both highly accomplished and warm and engaging. She is also highly educated and extremely accessible. Whatever Heidi has chosen to do in her life, she has done with excellence. She will continue to chart her own course and succeed.”

In 1992, Bill Clinton talked about getting “two for one.” Republicans didn’t like him, or her, but that’s not my point here. Bob and Elizabeth Dole were a two-for-one deal too. Indeed, Mrs. Dole (like Mrs. Clinton) went to the Senate. I don’t know that Heidi Cruz — Heidi Nelson, she was, when I first met her — will go to the Senate. But if she becomes president of the World Bank or secretary of the Treasury or what have you, I will not be in the least surprised.

And neither, having read this, will you.

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