Source: Maureen Dowd
WASHINGTON — I’LL pay for this column.
The Rottweilers will be unleashed.
Once the Clintons had a War Room. Now they have a Slime Room.
Once they had the sly James Carville, fondly known as “serpenthead.” Now they have the slippery David Brock, accurately known as a snake.
Brock fits into the Clinton tradition of opportunistic knife-fighters like Dick Morris and Mark Penn.
The silver-haired 52-year-old, who sports colorful designer suits and once wore a monocle, brawled his way into a Times article about the uneasy marriage between Hillary Clinton’s veteran attack dogs and the group of advisers who are moving over from Obamaland.
Hillary hasn’t announced a 2016 campaign yet. She’s busy polling more than 200 policy experts on how to show that she really cares about the poor while courting the banks. Yet her shadow campaign is already in a déjà-vu-all-over-again shark fight over control of the candidate and her money. It’s the same old story: The killer organization that, even with all its ruthless hired guns, can’t quite shoot straight.
Squabbling competing factions helped Hillary squander a quarter-of-a-billion dollars in 2008.
As Nicholas Confessore and Amy Chozick chronicled, the nasty dispute spilled into public and Brock resigned last week from the board of a pro-Clinton “super-PAC” called Priorities USA Action — whose co-chairman is Jim Messina, Obama’s 2012 campaign manager — accusing the political action committee of “an orchestrated political hit job” and “the kind of dirty trick I’ve witnessed in the right-wing and would not tolerate then.”
He should know.
The former “right-wing hit man,” and impresario of “dirty tricks,” as Brock has said of himself, made his living in the ’90s sliming Anita Hill as “a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty” and breaking the Troopergate story, which accused Arkansas state troopers of setting up liaisons for Bill Clinton and spurred Paula Jones’s 1994 sexual harassment lawsuit.
He has tried to discredit anyone who disagreed with his ideological hits (myself and reporters I know included). And that’s still the business he’s in, simply on the other side as a Hillary zealot. (His conversion began in 1996 when he published a biography of Hillary that was not a total hit job and that began the thaw.)
Just as Bill Clinton was able to forgive another architect of the vast right-wing conspiracy, Richard Mellon Scaife, once Scaife was charmed by Hillary in person and began giving money to the Clinton foundation, so, too, was Bill won over by Brock’s book, “Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative,” and Brock’s Media Matters and Correct the Record websites, which ferociously push back against any Hillary coverage that isn’t fawning.
With the understood blessing of the Clintons, Brock runs a $28 million cluster of media monitoring groups and oppo research organizations that are vehicles to rebut and at times discredit and threaten anyone who casts a gimlet eye at Clinton Inc.
As Confessore and Chozick wrote, he uses a fund-raiser named Mary Pat Bonner, whose firm has collected millions of dollars in commissions — a practice many fund-raising experts consider unethical.
Everyone wants to be at the trough for this one because Hillary is likely to raise, and more important, spend more than $1 billion on her campaign.
The Clinton crowd is trying to woo Brock back into the fold because he’s good at getting money and knows how their enemies think. The Clintons appreciate the fact that Brock, like Morris, is a take-no-prisoners type with the ethical compass of a jackal. Baked in the tactics of the right, Brock will never believe that negative coverage results from legitimate shortcomings. Instead, it’s all personal, all false, and all a war.
This is a bad harbinger for those who had hoped that Hillary would “kill off the wild dogs,” as one Obama loyalist put it, and Bill would leave behind the sketchy hangers-on in the mold of Ron Burkle and Jeffrey Epstein.
Hillary’s inability to dispense with brass-knuckle, fanatical acolytes like Brock shows that she still has an insecure streak that requires Borgia-like blind loyalty, and can’t distinguish between the real vast right-wing conspiracy and the voices of legitimate concern.
Money-grubbing is always the ugly place with the Clintons, who have devoured $2.1 billion in contributions since 1992 to their political campaigns, family foundation and philanthropies, according to The Old (Good) New Republic.
David Axelrod, the author of a new memoir, “Believer,” wrote that Hillary’s past gurus, Morris and Penn, were nonbelievers — mercenary, manipulative and avaricious. He told Politico’s Glenn Thrush that he would have advised Hillary not to cash in with her book and six-figure speeches.
Axelrod reiterated to me that Hillary’s designated campaign chairman, John Podesta, Bill Clinton’s last chief of staff who left his post as an Obama counselor on Friday, “has the strength and standing to enforce a kind of campaign discipline that hasn’t existed before.”
But, for now, what Republicans say about government is true of the Clintons: They really do believe that your money belongs to them.
Someday, they should give their tin cup to the Smithsonian. It’s one of the wonders of the world.