Some warning flares went up earlier in the week when we learned that the top Justice official involved in the re-opened Hillary Clinton investigation was a crony of Clinton consigliere John Podesta. The initial queasiness was caused by a private dinner between Podesta and Kadzik about the time of the Benghazi hearings, Kadzik having been Podesta’s private lawyer, and Kadzik begging Podesta for a job for his kid on the Clinton campaign.
Check this out:
Key points. The subject line is Heads up. The email came from Kadzik’s personal email account, not from his .gov address so there is no way this was an official “notice” email. Kadzik is feeding information that he knows due solely to his employment to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. This is total corruption. This is not the rule of law and “letting the chips fall where they may.” This is the active intervention of a senior executive branch official in an ongoing Congressional investigation.
Yesterday, Thomas Frank writing in The Guardian had this observation about the Wikileaks emails.
Then there is the apparent nepotism, the dozens if not hundreds of mundane emails in which petitioners for this or that plum Washington job or high-profile academic appointment politely appeal to Podesta – the ward-heeler of the meritocratic elite – for a solicitous word whispered in the ear of a powerful crony.
This genre of Podesta email, in which people try to arrange jobs for themselves or their kids, points us toward the most fundamental thing we know about the people at the top of this class: their loyalty to one another and the way it overrides everything else. Of course Hillary Clinton staffed her state department with investment bankers and then did speaking engagements for investment banks as soon as she was done at the state department. Of course she appears to think that any kind of bank reform should “come from the industry itself”. And of course no elite bankers were ever prosecuted by the Obama administration. Read these emails and you understand, with a start, that the people at the top tier of American life all know each other. They are all engaged in promoting one another’s careers, constantly.
Everything blurs into everything else in this world. The state department, the banks, Silicon Valley, the nonprofits, the “Global CEO Advisory Firm” that appears to have solicited donations for the Clinton Foundation. Executives here go from foundation to government to thinktank to startup. There are honors. Venture capital. Foundation grants. Endowed chairs. Advanced degrees. For them the door revolves. The friends all succeed. They break every boundary.
But the One Big Boundary remains. Yes, it’s all supposed to be a meritocracy. But if you aren’t part of this happy, prosperous in-group – if you don’t have John Podesta’s email address – you’re out.
Indeed, as we’ve seen time and again class loyalty and political tribalism trumps the commonweal every single time.