[You’ve been out of it for an entire week, I think. Have you really become this lethargic already?]
Nah, I’ve just been struggling to formulate my ideas. Need I remind you, we’ve had a couple of conversations that the world was never given the chance to read? And after all, didn’t you say that it is ultimately your discretion, which words of mine make it to print?
[If you’re trying to convince me that you’ve mentally retained anything that has been written here, then all I can say is—]
Don’t bother. Your discouragement is inimical to productivity, you know.
[Oh, isn’t that a lovely little sentence. What’s got you all down in the mouth today? Was Hannaford all out of Granny Smith apples, today?]
On the contrary, they finally received another shipment. I wasn’t too troubled by that, anyhow: last week, I finally broke down and went to Market Basket. No, if I were to restrict my trepidation to one thing only, it would be my reluctance to embrace politics, to examine that field of apathy and carnage for any longer than I absolutely have to.
[Didn’t you just say a week or two ago that you would be making a full-spirited return to politics, for the benefit of your readers, and just in time for the 2020 campaign?]
I know, but this is the most miserable of all industries, and the next few seasons are shaping up to be preternaturally grim. Few intellectuals will survive the coming storm—
[Good thing you’re not an intellectual, then.]
—and what will remain of those that survive, if I may quote the almighty Leatherface? I guess the wind was dropped from my sails when the media looked the other way on Michael Avenatti.
[Yes, I was wondering when you would take a look at that. Aren’t you excited? I couldn’t help but overhear you telling some people around the water cooler that, if Avenatti became the Democratic nominee, then you might have to seriously consider voting for Trump.]
I never said that I would vote for Trump in 2020. I said that, if Avenatti won the nomination, then I would have no choice but to vote third-party.
[Or, you could always write in Nietzsche’s name, again.]
That’s another option. In the meantime, it’s hard to figure out what, exactly, lies in store for Mr. Avenatti. As I was saying, the news media has allowed the waters of this well to run stagnant. If my browser can be trusted, it doesn’t look like any of the major so-called liberal networks have even checked on the story since Thursday, when it broke. I remember covering the media blackout of Ron Paul in 2012, but that almost looks like an honest mistake, relative to this conspiracy, the intent of which no one has bothered to conceal.
[So, you’ve subscribed to the right-wing interpretation of the non-coverage? You believe that the Democrats are going out of their way to dodge Avenatti?]
It isn’t a “right-wing interpretation”; it’s the truth. I did not hear about Avenatti until I opened Fox News—as I do from time to time, just to check in on America’s most vivid, lifelike tabloid. Even there, the coverage has been restricted; the commentators there have paced themselves. Elsewhere, it’s an obscurity: if you relied exclusively on liberal media for your news, as all too many of the supposedly educated do, then you may, seriously, have no idea that Avenatti was even arrested.
[Is this relevant, though? He isn’t exactly a major presidential candidate.]
Don’t even start with that. This guy has been the liberal media’s guilty pleasure ever since he came to the scene. When was that, again? March or April, maybe? I remember him sitting down with Bill Maher on the same night that Jordan Peterson appeared. But anyway, he’s been a delightful little item for the Left: he has allowed them to voice their frustrations vicariously, to disparage the President with the same kind of language he employs himself. This secondhanded mouthing allows them to maintain their own moral credibility, even as they attack the President for failing to observe decorum. Avenatti has been the living manifestation of hypocrisy, and it’s as tasteless as it is ugly.
[Forgive my skepticism, but you’ve been critical of every prospective Democratic candidate. You said you would plan to vote third-party if Kamala Harris won the nomination, and what you know about her, you gleaned from the Kavanaugh hearings exclusively. How can we trust that, in the case of Avenatti, your pledge to vote third-party isn’t cheap?]
I can’t be held responsible if the Democratic candidates make a sorry lot. All I can do is take note of what I see, and if Michael Avenatti believes that he has behaved anything close to presidentially during his brief time in the spotlight, then he is as badly befuddled as the Commander-in-Chief. I can’t imagine a greater absence of professionalism than that which has been demonstrated by the two of them.
[We all understand what you’re referring to when you speak of the impropriety of Trump, but what is so ruthless about Avenatti?]
Are you really this blind to what that man has done? He has threatened to sue every organization that has published an unflattering story about him. In fact, as soon as he was bagged by the LAPD on charges of domestic violence, he took to Twitter to declare that he would bankrupt TMZ for breaking the story. Is that not painfully reminiscent of Trump’s attitude towards those who have accused him of grisly things?
[You make it sound like I’m Avenatti’s biggest fan. I have no opinion. My role is the critic’s: I am obligated to challenge you on every point, and so far, I haven’t seen any evidence that Avenatti is comparable to Trump.]
What are you talking about? When Trump was accused of “sexual misconduct”—a term which we really need to abolish from our collective lexicon, and fast—he threatened to sue his “slanderers”. That threat was received very poorly by the Left, who accused him of abusing his political power to intimidate his “victims” and to obviate for himself the risk of facing trial. I understand that Mr. Avenatti is not on an equal standing with Trump, nor does he stand on the same ground whereupon Trump stood when he was accused of “misconduct”, but the comparison is still legitimate.
[Hmm. Do you believe it’s inappropriate for a politician to threaten a lawsuit over something that, in the worst-case scenario, amounts to slander?]
I’m not prepared to make a general rule about what another person should or should not do. My interest is in, among other locations, the stability and maturity of the man—or woman!—applying for the job, and while Mr. Avenatti has every right to sue those who defame him, the haste with which this man selected that recourse is merely the latest instance of the man himself suggesting, and indeed even confirming, that he is unfit for the office that he seeks.
[Well, as I said: you have been not only skeptical of Avenatti, but actively critical of him from the beginning. What fueled your concern initially?]
When he appeared strictly as Stormy Daniels’s lawyer, I didn’t think anything of him. Sure, it was obvious that he was a haughty self-promoter, one seeking to capitalize on the enormous media market for Trump’s vocal critics, but he didn’t cause me any salient unease until he emerged as a sincere candidate for the Democratic nod.
[You say he was, or is, sincere. You don’t believe, then, that this ostensible campaign is really just an ambitious effort to promote his own brand, to sell some books, and so on?]
People said that about Herman Cain when he ran in 2012, and at the time, such an interpretation was enough to allay one’s concerns. After all, no one seriously believed that a glorified investor in pizzerias could actually become the President, did one? The same thing was said about Donald Trump, but in this altered landscape, I’m not taking any chances, especially when Avenatti has a much brighter star than Herman Cain ever did—and, in the post-Trump culture, a much easier road to the White House, to boot.
[I think I understand: if he were merely a celebrity, and not a political candidate, then you would have no pronounced animosity towards him?]
Probably not. I try not to get too animated about media figures—not because I think there’s anything even slightly undignified about screaming at a television, but because we really ought to focus our attention on the government, rather than on its third-person extension, the media. This is why I would never want to be a media critic: I just can’t get myself worked up about the many inaccuracies of Tucker Carlson Tonight.
[But you do criticize the media, and often.]
In a general way, mostly. I’m much more interested in the tone of a show like Tucker Carlson than I am in the details of his shallow claims. Once you talk about how he exaggerated the numbers of illegal immigrants in America, you’re taking his program way too seriously. You shouldn’t need to have the numbers on hand to understand that there is something quite amiss with his work.
[Could it be that Avenatti is a talk show host come to life?]
He doesn’t have the restraint of a talk show host, even one as indecent as Hannity, or someone similar. Avenatti, there’s just something really crude about him, something really toxic. I guess I would say that, if Herman Cain was a nicotine patch, this guy is an unfiltered cigarette.
[That has to be the clumsiest bit of metaphorizing I have ever heard. Shakespeare must be awfully proud of that.]
All I’m saying is that there is something really shameless about Avenatti, and it’s disappointing to see the Democrats fall in line with his act.
[Do you believe that that is part of the problem, too? Do you think that he has charmed liberals in the way that Trump charmed conservatives?]
Oh, absolutely. What people still don’t understand about Trump is that his supporters love him for no greater reason than his invariable success in trolling the Left. Every time he says something too stupid to believe, his critics become incredulous, and they dive into the depths of his ignorance, as if, with just a little more effort this time, they will convince his supporters that they have been taken for a ride. They will never succeed, of course, these leftists who dream of someday changing their opponents’ minds, any more than those on the Right will convince their liberal neighbors of Trump’s prescience and strength. Trump’s defiance of their feeble attempts, and, in fact, his mean-spirited reveling in their persistent failure, is precisely what makes him so cuddly to his legions of fans.
[Is Avenatti, then, another . . . cuddly guy?]
Well, I think he gives the leftists what they want. They want to have their voices heard in this war against Trump. They want to say something really crushing, to walk right up to the President and scream in his face. Avenatti allows them to do that—vicariously, of course. His style isn’t nearly as effective as Trump’s, at least not yet, but who’s to say what he can or cannot do after two years of aggressive publicity? At the very least, you have to recognize that, if Avenatti were to square off against Trump in a debate, it would be a clash of very similar figures, both with the same ugly temperament.
[Is this what you fear? Trump and Avenatti in a battle for the country?]
Yeah, I already said as much. If it comes down to that—to this president taking on the man whose only claim to political authority is in having represented the woman who sued the president for something that I still don’t completely understand—then it’s time to start preparing for the fall of the American Empire. Seriously: a spectacle that squalid cannot possibly be covered with solemnity or respectability. What are we supposed to say, when we look at something that filthy? I mean, if you thought 2016 was a match of grotesque proportions, then just try to imagine Trump vs. Avenatti.
[Just how bad do you think it would be?]
It’d be appalling. You would see a spike in suicides, I think. The real consequences, the personal consequences, of this endless political media circus are going to come to the surface, sometime, and I think Trump vs. Avenatti just might be the ultimate dredging. Hence why I must confess my delight upon learning that the cops had picked up Avenatti: I thought that this would be the end of his political “career”. Surely there could be no more ironic finish, and surely the Democrats would not allow a man accused of something as misogynistic as domestic violence, not only to thrive, but even to remain, in the running, could they?
[I think I see where you’re going with this. The media’s deliberate ignorance of the arrest has been troubling.]
To say the very least. Do you know how many people within the media, how many outspoken feminists, have said that we must wait until all of the facts are in before we condemn Avenatti as an abusive man.
[Would you prefer that they rush to judgment?]
No, but the calls for forbearance reveal just how enamored the Left has become with this man. If he is really so alluring, merely as a media personality, that we cannot rid ourselves of him without doing all within our power to compromise with truth, to find some way, any way at all, to remain with this most addictive man?
[If you’re going to spend the next two years accentuating the Left’s hypocrisy, then this is going to be a long project indeed.]
And yet, after this entry, I feel just a bit more energized about it.
[Anything else before we go?]
Yeah: tell Avenatti that a phrase like “Whomever wrote that article” is both ungrammatical and pretentious.