"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."
10/31/2016, "Forget the FBI cache; the Podesta emails show how America is run," UK Guardian, Thomas Frank, opinion
"WikiLeaks’ dump of messages to and from [Mrs.] Clinton’s campaign chief [Podesta's gmail account] offer
an unprecedented view into the workings of the elite, and how it looks
..."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 [gmail] account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair John
Podesta [after a campaign IT worker declared a spear phishing email "legitimate," urged "immediate" clicking on the tempting link, thus releasing Podesta emails]....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 [elite] class to whom the party answers.
The class to which I refer is not rising in angry protest; they are
by and large pretty satisfied, pretty contented. Nobody takes road trips
to exotic West Virginia to see what the members of this class looks
like or how they live....
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
Let us turn the magnifying glass on them for a change, by sorting
through the hacked [via a campaign IT worker declaring a spear phishing email "legitimate," urging "immediate" clicking on the tempting link, thus releasing Podesta emails from his gmail account] personal emails of John Podesta, who has been a
Washington power broker for decades. I admit that I feel uncomfortable
digging through this hoard; stealing someone’s email is a crime, after
all, and it is outrageous that people’s personal information has been
exposed, since WikiLeaks
doesn’t seem to have redacted the emails in any way. [NASA was hacked 13 times in 2011 endangering all Americans but no one said it was "outrageous."] There is also the
issue of authenticity to contend with: we don’t know absolutely and for
sure that these emails were not tampered with by whoever stole them from
John Podesta. The supposed authors of the messages are refusing to
confirm or deny their authenticity, and though they seem to be real,
there is a small possibility they aren’t.
With all that taken into consideration, I think the WikiLeaks
releases furnish us with an opportunity to observe the upper reaches of
the American status hierarchy in all its righteousness and majesty.
The dramatis personae of the liberal class are all present in this
amazing body of work: financial innovators. High-achieving colleagues
attempting to get jobs for their high-achieving children. Foundation
executives doing fine and noble things. Prizes, of course, and high
Certain industries loom large and virtuous here. Hillary’s
ingratiating speeches to Wall Street are well known of course, but what
is remarkable is that, in the party of Jackson and Bryan and Roosevelt,
smiling financiers now seem to stand on every corner, constantly
proffering advice about this and that.
In one now-famous email chain,
for example, the reader can watch current US trade representative Michael Froman [as of Oct. 2016], writing from a Citibank email address in 2008, appear to name President Obama's cabinet even before the great hope-and-change
election was decided (incidentally, an important clue to understanding
why that greatest of zombie banks was never put out of its misery).
The far-sighted innovators of Silicon Valley are also here in force,
interacting all the time with the leaders of the party of the people.
watch as Podesta appears to email Sheryl Sandberg. He makes plans to visit
Mark Zuckerberg (who, according to one missive, wants to “learn more
about next steps for his philanthropy and social action”)....
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....
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
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”.
(Hilariously, in another email chain, the Clinton team appears to scheme to “hit” Bernie Sanders for attending “DSCC retreats on Martha’s Vineyard with lobbyists”.)
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."
"Thomas Frank is an American political analyst and historian. His books
include What’s the Matter With Kansas?. His latest is Listen, Liberal:
or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People? Twitter @thomasfrank"_
“Most successful hacks today start with a phishing attack."
"Gmail is...the top webmail service used by attackers to receive credentials stolen via phishing." (So why was Podesta using Gmail?)