Whither Jerry Brown goes, so will many Democrats


Todd S. Purdum writes: When an endorsement is as tepid as Jerry Brown’s — call it a non-endorsement endorsement — does it really make any difference at all? Perhaps not — except as a bellwether. The California governor’s eleventh-hour announcement on Tuesday that he’s supporting Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders, only a week before the biggest primary election in the presidential race, is emblematic of the months-long head-heart dilemma that has plagued the many Democrats who have a complicated history with the Clintons.

No one embodies this ambivalence, in fact, more than Jerry Brown himself, who a generation ago was seen more or less as the Bernie Sanders of his time. After all, it was Brown who, in the heat of his insurgent 1992 primary campaign for president against Bill Clinton, denounced him as “the prince of sleaze,” and described the work for the Arkansas state government of Hillary Clinton’s law firm as “a conflict of interest” and “a scandal of major proportion,” while carrying his candidacy to the bitter end at the Democratic National Convention in New York.

“I don’t care what you say about me, but you ought to be ashamed of yourself for jumping on my wife,” Bill Clinton told Brown in an angry Chicago debate in which the rivals pointed fingers in each other’s faces. “You’re not worth being on the same platform with my wife. I never funneled any money to my wife’s law firm. Never.”

Twenty-four years later, politics has once again made strange bedfellows — and Brown’s accommodation points to where many other progressive Democrats will likely end up, whether or not they are directly influenced by his action. It’s not that they like Hillary any better now than they did before, but much as the prospect of hanging concentrates the mind, the looming nomination of Donald Trump appears to supply the necessary nudge. If Hillary Clinton wins, it will be as part of a “Stop Trump” movement by many Democrats, nothing more. [Continue reading…]

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