Shake ups in the Democratic presidential field –Avenatti considers running and Gravel drops out

                The war of attrition raging in the Democratic Party continued in the past few days with two new developments. Former Alaska congressmen Mike Gravel has ended his campaign and leftist lawyer Michael Avenatti may run for president. These two events, though they concern some of the lesser figures in the drama of the 2020 election, are the beginning of the juicy part of the campaign. Twenty candidates debated a few nights ago –so many that it had to be divided into two nights. Most will be eliminated before the end of the primaries next year leaving only the frontrunners for the convention. Up until now, most of the news relating to the Democratic field has been about new candidates joining the fray, but they are starting to drop out. The narrowing of the choices illustrated by the loss of Gravel is the main takeaway from this news, but the matter with Michael Avenatti is too bizarre to be excluded from any commentary.

                Mike Gravel was an Alaskan congressman that has run an eyebrow-raising campaign that Politico can only characterize as “quixotic,” but more on that later. It must be noted that he is 89. If somehow he pulled off an upset that would put Bill Clinton’s reputation as the “comeback kid” to shame and won the White House, he would be by great lengths the oldest chief executive in American history. Donald Trump is currently the oldest man to be elected to the same office (70 at start of term) and the oldest president at the end of his term(s) was conservative giant Ronald Reagan (77 at end of both terms). Gravel is obviously far older than both men which would raise serious doubts as to his longevity in office. For context, he left elected office at the start of the Reagan Revolution in 1981 though he attempted to run for president in 2008 with little success. Pundits hammered the 40th president on his age and he was 69 going into his first term in 1981. What they would say about Gravel if he were a major player would safely eclipse what was said of Reagan and, given the partisan nature of the media, that would be no small feat.

                Politico’s description of Senator Gravel’s policy and actions is accurate. Just a quick search of his campaign website and social media reveals much surprising material. When researching this article, I visited his twitter account to get an idea how he conveys his ideas and was immediately taken with some interesting items there. For one thing, his twitter banner showed his slogan which was apparently “No more wars.” Peacenik Democrats are not uncommon, but criticizing war itself as unnecessary or immoral is rare for politicians; that rhetoric is more the realm of hippies who seem to avoid showering. Hours before this article was written he got into a profane twitter war with a Newsweek columnist whom he had trolled in the past. Hours before this article was written, he tweeted “F-ck off @NYTimes” in response to an article criticizing the activism of a Swedish climate activist. He also tweeted “F-ck off Tom Perez” for a reason that is difficult to discern from his utter lack of context. Also on twitter he advocated for the House Oversight Committee to subpoena every detained migrant in order to derail the immigration system. On numerous other occasions does his twitter contain the word “s-it” and “f-ck.” Judging by his track record on twitter, he will likely tweet “f-ck you” to me, but I digress. One wonders why Donald Trump’s sharp tongue monopolizes coverage of incivility in politics when there is material like this on the opposite side.

                His actual plans are so far to the left that he would seem a radical even among the radicals. His campaign website while it is still functional, relates numerous disastrous possible policies of his, some of which will be listed here. Under the heading, “ending the nuclear threat,” he discusses his intent to cripple the US nuclear arsenal, thus leaving America vulnerable to atomic blackmail by authoritarian Russia and China and rogue states like North Korea and Iran. Under several headings such as “Non-aggression abroad”, “Big cuts in military spending” and “Bring every troop home” he proclaims his intent to discontinue the use of sanctions, promises not to invade foreign countries unless they will imminently strike first, discontinue the use of drones, cut the Defense Department budget by 50% and retool the DoD for stopping asteroids. Under the heading “Opposing Israeli apartheid,” he goes on about his zeal for abandoning the only democracy in the Middle East and praises anti-semitic radical Ilhan Omar. It is important to note that the phrase “Israeli apartheid” is a trope often used by anti-Semites. He calls the Green New Deal (which has been covered here before) “absolutely necessary.” Gravel reiterates the need for a $230 per ton carbon tax, reviving and exponentially expanding the ancient Tennessee Valley Authority to decarbonize the energy industry, spending untold billions (trillions?) on infrastructure, etc. The heading “Internet access as a right” speaks for itself as does the one that reads “Supporting sex workers.”

                Radicalism like this does not grow on trees. America can only thank God that Gravel has dropped out of the race, but the ghost of his dysfunctional campaign (which was run by teenagers interestingly enough) lives on in the form of a think tank called the “Gravel Institute.” Here policy papers will be churned out that will espouse the same leftist lunacy that his campaign did.

                Gravel’s collapse is the real news here, but it is accompanied here by farce. The buffoonery of leftist lawyer Michael Avenatti, who is best known for defending porn star Stormy Daniels before he defrauded her and was dropped only continues with this news. He has recently come out with a statement saying to “never say never” on the topic of him running for president. Avenatti then lamented the Democrats not having a tough candidate to go toe-to-toe with Trump in the general election. News like this is entertaining in its fantastical nature. If he did run, few other campaigns would be so embattled or mocked. Perhaps Eugene V. Debs’s presidential run of 1920 when he garnered 915,000 while he was in prison for sedition under Woodrow Wilson’s 1917 Espionage Act could have been more fantastical, but only perhaps. Avenatti has been maligned severely for his time representing porn star Stormy Daniels. Most notably, he has been branded “The creepy porn lawyer” by none other than cable news anchor Tucker Carlson. FOX News has even ran headlines like “Creepy porn lawyer toying with 2020 run,” “Does America want creepy porn lawyer as pres,” “Stormy Daniels Lawyer as creepy porn president” etc. That nickname stuck around in the political discourse which did not make him look more serious or less greasy.

At the end of the day, Avenatti is a sideshow and Gravel is insignificant, but the real story is that the Democratic Party’s internal war of attrition is heating up.

Photo credit: “Judge: Michael Avenatti must pay $4.85 million in ex-lawyer’s suit” via Politico

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