And surprise! Shkreli's attempt to curry favor with Sanders failed in spectacular fashion. Sanders campaign spokesman Michael Briggs had this to say when he handed Shkreli's $2,700 check (the max individual contribution allowed) to a health-care clinic instead:
"We are not keeping the money from this poster boy for drug company greed," Briggs said.
In case hindsight isn't 20/20 for audacious 32-year-old mega-millionaires, allow us to explain what went wrong: Shkreli is arguably the political definition of capitalism-gone-awry right now. According to a BBC profile, Shkreli is the son of Albanian and Croatian immigrants. He grew up in a working-class Brooklyn community and skipped several grades on his path to huge Wall Street success —first as a hedge-fund manager and later as the founder of the biotech firm Turing, among others.
Shkreli's capitalistic rise hit a PR speed bump and earned him national infamy when it was revealed in September that Turing bought a potentially lifesaving drug and quickly jacked up the price by some 4,000 percent.
But for the most part, Shkreli's story is the stuff American dreams are made of. One version or another of it is elevated by all of the debate-qualifying presidential candidates as something you, too, can achieve.
All of the presidential candidates except one.
Sanders eschews capitalism. He won't even embrace a limited version of it. He wants government to step in and try to make life fair for everyone, not just guys like Shkreli. Sanders's life and political philosophy dictate that hard work and a little luck is not enough to succeed anymore.
Nor is there any room in Sanders's world for people like Shkreli. Driving up the cost of a life-saving prescription drug for dubious global health benefits is much more likely to make you Sanders's poster boy for corporate greed. Which is exactly what Sanders has done, even before Thursday.
Which makes what happened Thursday both completely predictable and also utterly astounding that Shkreli — divorced from the spotlight for a while now — would attempt it.