28 April 2007
Niccolo: Call Your Office
Some of my readers might now be asking, "Who's John Mack?" If you receive a newspaper at your home, then, the business section goes unread. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Here's the short answer: Mack is the CEO of the giant Wall Street brokerage firm Morgan Stanley. Mack was also at the center of a whistle-blowing scandal a year and a half ago.
Gary Aguirre, fired from his job as a staff lawyer for the Securities and Exchange Commission in the fall of 2005, started telling the press and various committees of Congress that he was fired because people in the upper echelons of the SEC wanted to protect John Mack, who (Aguirre alleged) was at the heart of an insider trading operation.
Aguirre's charges were rather short in the supportive-evidence department, and in time the flap faded. But they do help give me this neat transition back to the issue of Machiavellianism.
What is Mack really doing in publicly supporting Hillary? If he wanted to help her become the Democratic Party's nominee, after all, he might simply have written her a check while keeping his mouth shut. But he thought it necessary to make a public statement.
Will that help her? There are, I think, people in the world who are more likely to vote for you than against you in a campaign if the CEO of Morgan Stanley has shown confidence in you. But aren't those people generally known as Republicans?
Hillary is in the midst of a fight over the Democratic base. In the context of this fight, her weakness is that she is suspected of being too plastic, too much given to the family trait of "triangulation," disinclined to pick fights with the country's prominent CEOs and Wall Street honchos. In the context of this fight, the open support of Mack is, IMHO, more likely to hurt her than to help.
(Maybe the open support of Gary Aguirre would help.)
But here is the Machiavellian question: Couldn't Mack have figured that out? Is he endorsing her precisely to hurt her? If I were running Barack Obama's campaign, I'd consider Mack's endorsement of Senator Clinton to be red-letter wonderful news. Wouldn't you?
Mack might be working any of several angles here. I hesitate to speculate further. But that there's more than meets the eye, I'm pretty sure.
Knowledge is warranted belief -- it is the body of belief that we build up because, while living in this world, we've developed good reasons for believing it. What we know, then, is what works -- and it is, necessarily, what has worked for us, each of us individually, as a first approximation. For my other blog, on the struggles for control in the corporate suites, see www.proxypartisans.blogspot.com.