Senator Hillary Clinton’s Legislative Director, Laurie Rubiner, is mentioned prominently today in the Los Angeles Times. Such mention is long overdue for the work she did as the Health Program Director at the New America Foundation.
Rubiner incubated and hatched a “universal health care proposal” that many on the libertarian right as well as among moderate conservatives and the liberal left — and now the radical center with Arnold Schwarzenegger — have embraced as a sensible plan to actually reverse the disturbing trend of more and more Americans forgoing health care coverage. Rubiner developed the plan as health policy advisor to the late Senator John Chafee (R-RI). She brought the idea to the New America Foundation, and her mantle was picked up by Len Nichols who has helped move both Massachusetts and California politics to adopt the Rubiner health care plan.
It is a testament to Hillary Clinton that she has some extraordinary staff — like Rubiner, but also including others like Andrew Shapiro managing foreign policy and national security issues and Tamara Luzzatto as her chief of staff. Luzzatto was chief of staff for Senator Jay Rockefeller before joining Clinton.
But Clinton also has other arenas of advisors — a rumored five “super advisors” on the deep inside — who are the only ones who know the finite, gritty details of Hillary’s plans, strategy, and views. But then there is another ring of advisors, many of whom look like the somewhat drab advisors who have animated other Democratic campaigns. Perhaps Hillary Clinton and her inner circle have those “Democratic politburo” members in place to keep them from working elsewhere — and perhaps their bad advice will be gently overlooked while Clinton follows either better counsel or her own instincts.
But there will be tension around Clinton — and this kind of unresolved tension between excellent policy thinking, excellent political counsel and those who think that they have been around the block so many times they don’t need to learn anything more — is something that strangled Al Gore’s first phase presidential candidacy.
And guess what? The same tensions brought down John Kerry.
Hillary Clinton has a very smart policy team on her personal Senate staff. Hillary needs to remember that as she rolls forward because every previously “friend of Bill” is going to be knocking on her door, and many of them perhaps need to be greeted but then sent on their way.
— Steve Clemons