“It’s a discomfiting spectacle — and a dissonant one. So many of the candidates who raise their hands for “public service,” in their self-congratulating parlance, aren’t at peace with the economic humility that the phrase connotes. For more than a few of them, “public service” is a fig leaf over private cupidity. In many cases, it’s a prelude to a lucrative payday that they’re counting on.
They talk about their connection to “everyday Americans” (Hillary Clinton) and to laborers who “sweat through their clothes” (Huckabee) even as they reach for, and insist on, a much higher style. That’s partly why their words can ring so pat, so hollow. It’s one explanation for voters’ cynicism.
While we in the news media have long wrung our hands about the ways in which campaign financing warps the political process, what about the ways in which politicians’ frenzied competition for donations warps their views of the world? They now spend so much time among the country’s plutocrats, sowing friendship wherever the funds are, that their bearings and their yardsticks surely change, as must their sense of their station.”