John Podesta is constantly being asked to lunch.
John Podesta receives a cascade of boring news briefs.
John Podesta is a one-man suggestion box for people who have ideas about the campaign.
John Podesta and his wife, Mary, have a typical marriage-on-the-go. We know this because WikiLeaks dumped the contents of his Gmail inbox into the public square this month.
“Happy anniversary. tried calling a couple of times but no pickup.”
“CVS called. I assume I should pick up your Rx?”
“should be home around 7:30. Happy to use cabbage to make curry if that grabs you.”
“Thinking of you.”
Podesta is 67, a raspy-voiced political lifer who worked his way up the establishment to become Bill Clinton’s White House chief of staff in 1998. He founded the liberal brain box known as the Center for American Progress, then served as a counselor to Barack Obama, and now he is chairman of Hillary Clinton’s campaign. He is the Clintons’ longtime cleanup guy but now, with this email leak, he’s the source of the mess.
What happens if you measure a Washington insider not by his résumé but by his inbox? His correspondence reveals what everyone already knows but is shocked to see confirmed: In private, most of us can be pretty bitchy .
“An everyday American pompous law professor,” Podesta wrote about Harvard’s Lawrence Lessig.
“Maybe we can rent the Queen Mary for the next 18 months and fill it with [Hillary’s] brothers and assorted crazy hangers on,” he wrote in May 2015.
[Always running, always prepared: Hillary Clinton as a high school politician]
Podesta has decried the hack while declining to comment on the authenticity of every email. If you look at them, you will find that John Podesta thinks that his “only real talent” is cooking, that he likes to cook with other people and that his kitchen advice is sought after. One friend referred to him as “Chef Podesta” in an email.
“My f’in dumplings never rise properly,” former Obama official Alyssa Mastromonaco wrote to him.
“The risotto, fish and salad were marvelous,” law professor Bob Mnookin emailed.
“Why do I use a 1/4 or 1/2 cup of stock at a time?” emailed former Clinton staffer Peter Huffman with the subject line “risotto.”
Podesta must be the risotto king of Washington. His response to Huffman: “The slower add process and stirring causes the rice to give up its starch, which gives the risotto its creamy consistency.”
A wonderful metaphor for a Clinton whisperer: Get her to give up the starch!
During Bill Clinton’s first term, Podesta was tasked with mopping up the Whitewater spill. During his second term, Podesta was in charge of triage during the Monica Lewinsky saga. And on Wednesday night, he had to wave off his own trouble. After the final debate between Donald Trump and Clinton, NBC’s Chuck Todd asked Podesta “what should voters take away” from his emails, which show how the campaign sausage is made.
“She’s a person who delivers results,” Podesta replied, ignoring the uncomfortable truths in his inbox — like his boss’s speeches to Wall Street, a campaigner’s disparaging comments about religion, and insinuations that the campaign was getting debate questions in advance.
[Sidney Blumenthal just wanted to stay in the conversation. Now he’s once again the topic.]
There was also good, old-fashioned spitballing.
“F--- these a--holes,” progressive think tanker Neera Tanden wrote July 31 in an email that appears to be about doubters of Hillary’s health.
“Needy Latinos” was the subject line of an August email from Podesta regarding former Clinton cabinet officials Federico Peña and Bill Richardson.
“What an a--hole,” Podesta wrote about the dentist who killed Cecil the lion.
When a baffled acquaintance forwarded a ThinkProgress article on Nicki Minaj’s fraught relationship with her own butt, Podesta just e-shrugged.
“Gender and racial and booty equity,” he wrote.
Podesta has been known for years as a UFO guy, in that he endorses the disclosure of government secrets about skyward phenomena, and his inbox holds scraps of the extraterrestrial. An anonymous man asked him in October 2015 to review videos purporting to show UFOs. The astronaut Edgar Mitchell, now deceased, wanted to Skype with Podesta and Obama about becoming part of the galactic community, and Podesta’s assistant didn’t exactly brush him off. Jimmy Kimmel “didn’t end up asking [Hillary] about UFOs!” wrote Clinton communications guru Kristina Schake to Podesta in November. “She was very disappointed.”
Most tantalizing among these emails was Podesta’s response to a strategist who wrote an email (subject line “UFOs”) about how in the ’90s the CIA had stonewalled the Clinton administration’s pursuit of The Truth.
“More to come,” Podesta wrote.
In this era of leaks, that sounds like a promise.