David Brock is nothing if not morally and politically flexible. He started as a conservative muckraker who was widely denounced for his unrelenting attacks on Hillary Clinton. He then announced a change of heart and became an attack dog for Hillary — becoming extremely wealthy as the head of shadowy Clinton PAC that investigated and attacked any Democrat or Republican who stood against her. In this election, Clinton was attacked for her association with Brock who was viewed as reaching a new level of sleazy and vicious work. You may recall Bernie Sanders denouncing Clinton for her continued alliance with Brock and use of his controversial PAC organizations. Sanders referred to Brock as simple “scum” but Clinton refused to denounce Brock or to discourage Democrats from working with or contributing to his PACs. As we discussed, it turns out that even Clinton aides were disgusted by Clinton’s refusal to cut off Brock or to denounce his work. In the latest batch of Wikileaks, Neera Tanden, the President of Center for American Progress, allegedly emailed John Podesta that “I hope Hillary truly understands now how batshit crazy David Brock is.”
Now Brock is ready for his next transformation. After leading attacks on Sanders, Brock has apologized in a public letter that he was wrong and now wants an alliance with Sanders as his attack dog. It brings to mind Sam Houston’s description of a contemporary of having “every quality of a dog except loyalty.” In a statement that is enough to force most politicians into a fetal position, Brock has written to Sanders to say “I’m with you.” The effort to play the Prodigal Son is likely to be lost on Sanders. After all the original Prodigal Son did not first try to kill the father, burn his farm to the ground and poison his livestock.
Clinton of course notoriously refused to move against Brock and work to entirely disassociate herself and her supporters from the man. Wikileaks has shown that not only did some Clinton staff find the alliance with Brock to be radioactive but Brock had ongoing back channel communications with the campaign. Now he wants to do the same for Sanders — the man that he trashed for Hillary Clinton. He attacked Sanders for not caring about blacks, he questioned his health, and painted his supporters in the most negative light. Yet Brock has now written Sanders:
“At times during the Democratic primary, I was criticized for being too aggressive in my support for Secretary Clinton — and rightly so. Looking back, I recognize that there were a few moments when my drive to put Hillary in the White House led me to take too stiff a jab. I own up to that, I regret it, and I apologize to you and your supporters for it.”
The most chilling part of the open letter to Sanders was “I’m with you in the fight ahead.”
Brock has been trying to find new donors and to rebrand while attacking both Clinton staff and the media. The problem is he pursued a scorched Earth strategy with Clinton against all of her enemies and must now find a home. He has already said that he is prepared to attack Republicans with the same vigor that he did opponents of Hillary Clinton. He is appealing to the lowest common denominator of Democratic donors in pledging to “kick Donald Trump’s ass” for them. Fortunately, few people believe that Sanders is so relativistic in his ethics or so simplistic in his politics to take Brock up on his offer. Here is what Sanders said about Brock during the campaign:
“They have been attacked in that way for decades — the Clintons have — by people like David Brock, before he presumably saw the light, who lied about the Clintons . . . And their response is, ‘Look, that’s the world we live in. That’s what you gotta do.’ I understand that. I don’t think that’s what you gotta do. I don’t think you hire scum of the Earth to be on your team just because the other side does it. You gotta play in a little bit different way.”
Of course, Brock will always be able to find donors who care little about ethics or decency and just want to attack the other side. Yet, Brock’s open letter to Sanders has made even the Beltway cringe like a political version of “Reek” from Game of Thrones — some tortured soul without an identity of his own in search of a master.
Perhaps Sanders could respond with a line from Ramsey Snow: “If you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention.”