November 02, 2016
Other power couples reverberate throughout this imbroglio. For example, the FBI second-in-command in charge of investigating (or not investigating) Hillary’s emails was Andrew McCabe. His wife, Jill McCabe, happened to receive $467,500 in campaign donations for her Virginia state senate run a year ago from Terry McAuliffe, the longtime Clinton fixer.
Should this have been suspicious? I don”t know, but a lot of FBI agents seem to think it is.
When Democratic congressmen complained to the Justice Department that the FBI was reopening the email investigation after Loretta Lynch had gone to the trouble of meeting on the tarmac with Bill Clinton last summer, Assistant Attorney General Peter Kadzik replied. Not surprisingly, Kadzik’s wife, Amy Weiss, was deputy press secretary to Bill Clinton.
Kadzik was also a lawyer for international criminal Marc Rich, a central figure in the Rape of Russia by bribing Russian managers to sell their factories for scrap metal. As you may recall, Rich was pardoned by Bill Clinton on the morning of Jan. 20, 2001, after a lucrative and impassioned plea from his ex-wife and mother of his children Denise Eisenberg Rich.
In turn, Bill Clinton’s wife Hillary frequently alleges that her opponent is a puppet of Russia’s subsequent pro-Russian government.
It’s a small world at the top.
In contrast, in the mid”20th century, American culture trended against various forms of favoritism and inside dealing as being undemocratic. A general assumption of that long-lost era was that talent was now abundant enough that Americans didn”t have to put up with potentially self-interested personnel moves.
Insider trading, for instance, was outlawed in 1934. The Twenty-second Amendment of 1951 put a two-term limit on the presidency. In response to John F. Kennedy appointing Robert F. Kennedy his attorney general, a 1967 law outlawed nepotism in cabinet appointments.
But such ethical nitpicking seems outdated in the current year.
A key factor in the rollback of mid-20th-century scruples was the women’s liberation movement. Since heterosexual alpha females like Hillary are so often married to alpha males like Bill, one of the targets of 1970s feminist ire was the Depression-era anti-nepotism acts that prevented government agencies, such as public universities, from hiring spouses, such as the Lakoffs.
These fair-play regulations were partly driven by spread-the-wealth doctrines and partly by anti-corruption qualms. For example, when governor George Wallace evaded Alabama’s term-limit law by running his wife Lurleen in 1966, William F. Buckley had dared to scoff, “Wallace thumbed his nose at it by the technicality of putting his pretty wife on his knee and running Mrs. Charlie McCarthy for governor.”
But fifty years later, Americans have been trained not to roll their eyes when a term-limited politician runs his wife for the same office. It’s not nepotism, it’s feminism. What’s good enough for Nicaragua is good enough for the United States.
The rise of two-career couples has increased the importance of who-you-know relative to what-you-know, boosting opportunities for nepotism because if you come from a well-connected family you now have virtually double the number of people in power who are your relations.
The term “nepotism” originated in Italy, where the nephews of popes tended to do very well for themselves. But today if you come from a high-ranking family, you can have not only powerful uncles but also powerful aunts as well, doubling your chances of being related to somebody with pull in your field.
On the other hand, if you come from a family with no connections…well, you are no better off in absolute terms and worse off in relative terms.
Two times zero is still zero.