"The emails currently roiling the US presidential campaign are part of some unknown digital collection amassed by the troublesome Anthony Weiner, but if your purpose is to understand the clique of people who dominate Washington today, the emails that really matter are the ones being slowly released by WikiLeaks from the hacked account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta. They are last week’s scandal in a year running over with scandals, but in truth their significance goes far beyond mere scandal: they are a window into the soul of the Democratic party and into the dreams and thoughts of the class to whom the party answers....
...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
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."