21st July 2016
There’s a new revolving door in Washington: And this time, it leads to San Francisco.
News reports surfaced yesterday that Eric Holder, Loretta Lynch’s predecessor as U.S. Attorney General, will be working with home-rental startup Airbnb to draft a “world-class anti-discrimination policy” for the company. Airbnb has faced various controversies about people with stereotypically African-American surnames being turned down for rentals through the platform, and is now in the process of figuring out a way to reverse that trend. Holder’s hiring makes perfect sense: As a black man and one of the most famous legal figures in the country, he’s optically perfect, presumably prepared for the task ahead of him, and sends the message that Airbnb is serious about tackling their discrimination problem. Whether Holder will actually accomplish anything is frankly beside the point: The important thing is that Airbnb looks like it’s doing something.
The essence of the ‘revolving door’ between government service and civilian life is that people nominally serving the public on the government payroll are actually concentrating on maximizing their employability after they pay their dues in the bureaucracy (which is not famous for paying top dollar to its employees). This they do by (a) lobbying their former colleagues, (b) exploiting loopholes and exceptions cleverly inserted in massively complex legislation while on staff, which legislation no elected official ever has the time (or inclination) to read, and (c) acting as window-dressing for businesses that want to appear to be Getting With The Program but who actually just want to put some lipstick on the pig and keep on with what they’re doing. This is why, for example, Donna Shalala is now running the Clinton Crime Family Foundation. In that respect, Eric Holder might be considered the Chief Affirmative Active hire for the Left Coast.