I recently had a visit with a good friend who is a banker. (Public school teachers sometimes have such friends. And she’s a good friend, too.) She told me a story about her son’s asking her to help a buddy of his, please, get a job—or a shot at a job—at her bank. She had explained to him that yes, she could ask the appropriate others in the company to give the buddy’s application a look, but she couldn’t do any more than that—both because she has no truly good reason to recommend the guy and because she shouldn’t mess too much with the bank’s application and hiring practices, especially because she could in fact influence them. There were ethics involved. It may be worth noting that her son’s friend did not get the job.
I may not be representing her story exactly. But I think I have captured the gist, which has, I think, a clear and acceptable bottom line: a person in power can, without serious qualms, help a friend (of a friend) not be overlooked, but she shouldn’t offer any greater advantage over all the other candidates. I realize that, in a perfect world, this would be a kind of corruption. Certainly it gives an advantage to anyone who is networked, and that is quite clearly not truly fair to those who don’t have any connections at all.
But how many of those in power ignore all the networked friends, acquaintances, classmates, family members, and trusted friends of family members? Is Bernie that pure? Is the vice-president of your local bank? Is the owner of that favorite deli where you buy your lunch?
I ask this because Hillary Clinton is being raked over the coals, once again, for the apparently gross corruption revealed in a handful of emails that reveal that her aides facilitated meetings between a couple of power brokers and a supporter or two (I think the total really is two) of The Clinton Foundation.
Now, I really do understand that there is something unseemly here. Just as it is essentially unfair to improve, even slightly, a nephew’s shot at a job interview, it is queasy-making, at a much higher level of power, to help a fat cat get a sit-down with a major mover-and-shaker. But I invite all expert nerds to hack into the emails of every senator and representative, of every cabinet member and White House aide. Of every real estate broker. Is any one of them so pure as to never have done a small favor for a friend or colleague?
I recognize that there are reasons to find Hillary Clinton corrupt. I know that FBI investigators have found three Clinton emails that shared improperly marked but still confidential information. For this, apparently, we should “lock her up.” And yes, they have also found some insider favoritism regarding two Foundation donors’ making connections to some D.C. bigwigs. For this, I’m told, we should once again brand her as “unworthy of the office of the President” (no matter how much we must ignore Presidential history in order to assert that conclusion).
But should we, for this, also insist that she’s just as corrupt as the lying, manipulative, vicious, callous, narcissistic, and thoroughly bankrupt demagogue that is her opposition?
No, we should not.
If you’re looking for a squeaky clean, beautifully pristine person to lead the nation, you’ll have to look for a person who is so divorced from the way national leadership works that they actually have no idea how to lead.
And you certainly cannot give a pass to the malignancy who for decades has plagued New York City and the nation with his enormous of bravado, malice, fakery, greed, narrow-mindedness, and self-aggrandizement—and the bankruptcies that have made him rich.