And that about wraps it up for the Avenatti 2020 campaign. Democrats could forgive him his embarrassing business problems, they could forgive him screwing up their war on Kavanaugh (when is Avenatti going to produce those corroborating witnesses for Julie Swetnick, anyway?), but suggesting that the party of multiculturalism needs a white man at its head to be viable? Dunzo.
Which, in a sense, is unfair. His whole pitch to liberals has been that he’s a smarter, more pugnacious version of Trump. He’s a political “outsider”! He “fights”! He’ll play dirty! He knows how to win! He’s got bankruptcy troubles! And, it turns out, he thinks that presidential nominees should be white alpha males. Why should liberals punish Avenatti for being the man he’s been advertised as?
Anyway, my hat is off to him for the unctuousness with which he tried to frame this completely self-serving retrograde argument:
A run for President would thrust Avenatti into the middle of the party’s identity crisis. The Democrats have not been this powerless since the 1920s, and their members have responded by nominating a historic number of women and people of color for office. But when it comes to the party’s presidential nominee in 2020, Avenatti thinks in different terms. “I think it better be a white male,” he says. He hastens to add that he wishes it weren’t so, but it’s undeniable that people listen to white men more than they do others; it’s why he’s been successful representing Daniels and immigrant mothers, he says. “When you have a white male making the arguments, they carry more weight,” he says. “Should they carry more weight? Absolutely not. But do they? Yes.”
Telling liberals that they need to vote white and male because our benighted country’s bigotry sadly requires it (when we’re less than two years removed from having a black president!) may be the single most shameless case I’ve ever seen of a white lefty trying to use “wokeness” to shield his own privilege. “America is a racist country — so let’s embrace it” is quite a pitch for a left-winger in the year of our lord 2018.
Being good sports, I trust that Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand will magnanimously let his remark pass without notice if in fact Avenatti runs in 2020 and emerges as a populist threat. Just as I trust that Democratic primary voters, who are increasingly female and minority, won’t hold it against him if any of the above do bring it up on the trail. Lefty Bill Scher wonders whether Avenatti has a point, though:
Don't be surprised if there are Democratic voters who quietly/semi-quietly believe a white man is necessary to win back Trump states.
That's the thing about divisive primaries; you'll learn much more about your own party than you ever wanted to know.
— Bill Scher (@billscher) October 25, 2018
Molly Ball, who co-wrote the Time story in which Avenatti is quoted musing about white-male nominees, agrees with him:
I have spoken to activists who have voiced this view – loyal Dems, including women/POC, who believe Hillary's defeat proved the country is too backward, and they can't afford to take the risk.
— Molly Ball (@mollyesque) October 25, 2018
That’s a hard sell when the last guy to hold the presidency before Trump was black and did quite well in the Rust Belt and swing states like Florida. But it’s true that Dems will be wrestling soon over what type of nominee is best equipped to take down Trump. I wrote about that a few days ago:
Do they need to out-Trump him with an Avenatti type? Do they need someone who can reassemble the Obama coalition of young voters and minorities? Or do they simply need a candidate who can excite people? They had that with O, they lacked it sorely with Hillary. As robust as the coming Democratic field looks to be, the only serious contenders who have real charisma are Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders and each are older than time.
Partly this depends on the results next month. If the GOP overperforms, you might find some panicked, victory-starved liberals willing to do anything to wrest back part of government from the GOP in 2020. If those Rust Belt racists insist upon a white dude at the top, fine. Give them their damned white dude. But if Democrats do well, in particular if minority candidates like Andrew Gillum and Stacey Abrams and a variety of women and minority House candidates pull out wins, that will encourage those who believe that not only are black and women candidates newly viable in the U.S., they may be stronger than white men as potential presidential nominees given the party’s minority/female base. To put it more bluntly, if you’re Avenatti you’re probably quietly rooting for a big night for Republicans in two weeks. Your case that Warren and Harris and Booker and Gillibrand can’t deliver may depend upon it.
He’s going to eat a mountain of sh*t for what he said in the meantime. I predict he’ll end up refining his argument to reframe it in the context of Trump’s victory, specifically. He has no choice, really; there’s no other way to explain Obama’s two landslides. He’ll have to say something like this: “Yes, of course Americans are enlightened enough to elect an impressive black candidate president. But Trump brings out the worst in people. Men like his alpha-male shtick. And whites are intrigued by his identity politics for white people. You can try to beat him at his own game with women and minorities, or you can deny him the right to remind white voters that he’s the only white alpha male running for president — essentially, beat him at his own game among whites and trust that women and minorities will vote Democratic anyway.” That’s Avenatti’s whole pitch to begin with, right? “I’ll beat Trump at his own game!” Well, there you go.
Update: Another point in common between Trump and Avenatti: The latter is now crying “fake news” about the Time report.
“I never said that, that’s complete bulls**t. That’s my comment, complete bullsh**t,” he said.
After a DCNF reporter proceeded to read his alleged comments back to him, Avenatti again denied ever saying such things.
“No, that’s not what I said,” Avenatti replied before hanging up the phone.
Molly Ball is a respected reporter. The odds that she misquoted Avenatti are about the same as his 2020 chances.