Quote of the Day:
[The Wikileaks emails] 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.
–Thomas Frank in The Guardian
Thomas Frank is a certified lefty, author of the book What's the Matter with Kansas (what is the matter, in Frank's view, is that Kansas tends to vote Republican).
Thus his devastating commentary on what he calls the "clique of people who rule Washington today," as they reveal themselves in the hacked emails of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, are particularly interesting.
Who, to begin, are these people?
They are the comfortable and well-educated mainstay of our modern Democratic party. They are also the grandees of our national media; the architects of our software; the designers of our streets; the high officials of our banking system; the authors of just about every plan to fix social security or fine-tune the Middle East with precision droning. They are, they think, not a class at all but rather the enlightened ones, the people who must be answered to but who need never explain themselves.
And where do they like to hang out? What do they talk about?
There are wonderful things to be found in this treasure trove when you search the gilded words “Davos” or “Tahoe”. But it is when you search “Vineyard” on the WikiLeaks dump that you realize these people truly inhabit a different world from the rest of us. By “vineyard”, of course, they mean Martha’s Vineyard, the ritzy vacation resort island off the coast of Massachusetts where presidents Clinton and Obama spent most of their summer vacations. The Vineyard is a place for the very, very rich to unwind, yes, but as we learn from these emails, it is also a place of high idealism; a land of enlightened liberal commitment far beyond anything ordinary citizens can ever achieve.
Consider, for example, the 2015 email from a foundation executive to a retired mortgage banker (who then seems to have forwarded the note on to Podesta, and thus into history) expressing concern that “Hillary’s image is being torn apart in the media and there’s not enough effective push back”.
The public eavesdrops as yet another financier invites Podesta to a dinner featuring “food produced exclusively by the island’s farmers and fishermen which will be matched with specially selected wines”. We learn how a Hillary campaign aide recommended that a policy statement appear on a certain day so that “It wont get in the way of any other news we are trying to make – but far enough ahead of Hamptons and Vineyard money events”. We even read the pleadings of a man who wants to be invited to a state dinner at the White House and who offers, as one of several exhibits in his favor, the fact that he “joined the DSCC Majority Trust in Martha’s Vineyard (contributing over $32,400 to Democratic senators) in July 2014”.
But–really–are they a cohesive Establishment?
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.
Don't miss this terrific read.