Hormats on Rubin

It should be no surprise that State Dept nominee Robert Hormats and Robert Rubin are well-acquainted, both Bobs having served their country at Goldman Sachs during the eighties. During the nineties, when Rubin was in the Clinton administration, they were a sort of Washington-Wall Street tandem, consistently agreeing on what was best for global financial markets. Hormats would appear on cable TV saying what his old boss should do, Rubin would oblige, and Hormats would lavish praise on him. So Rubin’s fingerprints are all over an Obama pick, once again.

Hormats’s homages to Rubin appear to have been part of the vast Wall Street conspiracy to portray Rubin as public-minded policy god, despite his smug, frat boy bearing. At times, these words of praise have been completely over-the-top. Here are some highlights.

On Wall Street recruiting Rubin after his departure from Treasury in 1999:

“The recruitment of Bob Rubin reminds me of pro teams going after the Heisman Trophy winner,” said his friend Robert Hormats, a Goldman vice chairman.

On his future in the private sector:

“I think he will be in finance and economics what Henry Kissinger was when he left office in the area of foreign policy. He’ll be a senior statesman who will play a very vigorous, very active role for many years.”

On his tenure at Treasury:

“It’s hard to argue with success, and his success has been extraordinary,” said Robert Hormats, vice chairman of Goldman Sachs International.

On the possible selection of Rubin as Fed chair:

“Robert Rubin would be a terrific chairman of the Fed, except for the fact that I think his wife and probably Bob himself would not be particularly keen on going back to Washington. Rubin would be a terrific pick for–for Gore or for Bush, for that matter. Rubin would be a home run–a grand slam home run for whoever picked him.”

In that last quote, it’s almost as if Hormats catches himself coming in under the standard praise quota, or perhaps failing to adequately convey the true awesomeness of his old boss. Sensing that he hasn’t quite gotten his point across, he re-doubles his efforts towards the end, escalating from “terrific pick” to “home run” to “grand slam home run.”

Was he really, in all seriousness, calling a pick for Fed chair a “grand slam home run”? Seriously now.

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