The Slatest

Basta! Michael Avenatti Appears to Enjoy Pretending to Run for President.

Michael Avenatti outside a courthouse
Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for adult film actress Stormy Daniels, speaks to the press after a court hearing at the U.S. Courthouse in Los Angeles in July. Mark Ralston/Getty Images

Stormy Daniels’ lawyer and object of liberal Facebook Mom lust Michael Avenatti is doing the damn thing—or at least doing a good imitation of someone who is.

He showed up at the Iowa State Fair, telling the Associated Press, “I am seriously considering it, and I think a lot of it is going to hinge on what direction I think the party is taking and who is likely to get in the race.” He told the Concord Monitor, a New Hampshire newspaper, that he’s going to visit the first primary state within a month and is “in the process of setting up a number of meetings” there.

In a fallen, Trumpian world, it seems pointless to chide Avenatti or the reporters writing about him (hi!) for, respectively, engaging in a blatant attention-grabbing charade and rewarding it with … attention. At least Avenatti seems to realize what’s going on. He certainly isn’t shunning the speculation—he’s literally tweeting stories that extensively quote him talking about it.

So far, his “platform” and political philosophy are almost comically vague and expansive, seemingly designed to not turn off any possible constituency but also to not delve deeply into any policy question. He’s a “Bill Clinton Democrat” (moderate! business-friendly!), but he also supports Medicare for all (bold! progressive!). At least Trump had a worldview and years of (sometimes contradictory) policy pronouncements going back to the 1980s.

But Avenatti has yet to make any formal commitments to run or, more importantly, financial ones. The AP said that he hasn’t hired anyone or asked for donor money. Until he’s willing to spend anything besides his (and reporters’) time, he’s just a publicity hound pretending to be a presidential candidate. Which, of course, doesn’t mean he won’t be saying, “Basta!” to the nation on Jan. 20, 2021.