Wikimedia Commons

The Hillary Clinton emails are a parable out of Kafka.

In the latest email dump from her time at the State Department, we are treated to what has become a familiar cast of toadies who inundate her inbox with flattery, requests, and desperate appeals for access. Chief sycophant Lanny Davis praises her “sparkling yellow pants suit” and compares her to Atticus Finch. Anne-Marie Slaughter writes that she was “devastated” to read that Clinton might not have approved of her widely read article in The Atlantic called “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All.” “Is she really talking about me?” Slaughter writes to a Clinton aide. “I have been 500 percent supportive and loyal in every possible way I can be? Can I at least talk to her?” Gary Gensler, the former head of the CFTC, will let nothing get in the way of his requests for an audience, including that time Clinton suffered a concussion: “My mom always recommended a bit of chicken noodle soup. ... And please don’t worry about connecting with me on the work matters until you are really up to it.”

And where is Clinton in all this? She’s searching for Homeland on cable. She’s issuing terse orders (“Pls print”). She’s impossibly remote, surrounded by layers and layers of bureaucrats and advisers. It’s unclear whether she can even hear the thousands of paeans and pleas that rise to her like prayers, though her every stray word is felt as a capricious lightning bolt by her followers. She is the emperor out of a Kafka story, the sovereign you dream has sent a message to you alone.