Understanding Rubin

Matt Taibbi includes a devastating analysis of the role that Robert Rubin has played in shaping this young administration in his latest piece for Rolling Stone, Obama’s Big Sellout:

Despite being perhaps more responsible for last year’s crash than any other single living person — his colossally stupid decisions at both the highest levels of government and the management of a private financial superpower make him unique — Rubin was the man Barack Obama chose to build his White House around.

There are four main ways to be connected to Bob Rubin: through Goldman Sachs, the Clinton administration, Citigroup and, finally, the Hamilton Project, a think tank Rubin spearheaded under the auspices of the Brookings Institute to promote his philosophy of balanced budgets, free trade and financial deregulation. The team Obama put in place to run his economic policy after his inauguration was dominated by people who boasted connections to at least one of these four institutions — so much so that the White House now looks like a backstage party for an episode of Bob Rubin, This Is Your Life!

The article is a fantastic work of power analysis, backed up by the sort of data we compile here at LittleSis. The interlocks tab on Rubin’s profile is meant to show you exactly what Taibbi discusses in that second paragraph: how people are connected to him through common institutional affiliations. Not surprisingly, many of the names discussed in the piece show up in that list of interlocks.

All this data is out there already. It doesn’t take inside access to get the story. It takes research and analysis. But few journalists seem willing or able to get there, and few seem to understand Rubin and his network.

Frank Rich, who discusses Rubin’s “hermetically-sealed bubble of privilege and self-interest” in today’s column, is another important exception.

Taibbi and Rich show that you don’t need insider access to tell the inside story. Quite the opposite, in fact.