The Best and Brightest are Not Always the Wisest: Frank Rich

Saturday, December 06, 2008
Robert Rubin

Lawrence Summers and Timothy Geithner [Obama’s nominees for Director of the National Economic Council and Secretary of the Treasury] are both protégés of another master of the universe, Robert Rubin. His appearance in the photo op for Obama-transition economic advisers three days after the election was, to put it mildly, disconcerting. Ever since his acclaimed service as Treasury secretary in the Clinton administration, Rubin has labored as a senior adviser and director at Citigroup, now being bailed out by taxpayers to the potential tune of some $300 billion. Somehow the all-seeing Rubin didn’t notice the toxic mortgage-derivatives on Citi’s books until it was too late. Asked by The New York Times in April if he’d made any mistakes at Citigroup, he sounded self-deluded…. “I honestly don’t know,” Rubin answered. “In hindsight, there are a lot of things we’d do differently. But in the context of the facts as I knew them and my role, I’m inclined to think probably not.” Since that interview, 52,000 Citigroup employees have been laid off but not Rubin, who remains remorseless, collecting a salary that has totaled in excess of $115 million since 1999.

The Brightest Are Not Always the Best (Frank Rich, New York Times)


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