Former Starbucks CEO and current billionaire Howard Schultz wants everyone to know he’s very serious about running for president as “a centrist independent” candidate. He also wants you to know he has a book coming out (From The Ground Up, get it?) but that’s surely just some coincidence.
Schultz has been on a media blitz to share his Very Serious Thoughts about mounting a presidential campaign, and they sound like the same kind of centrist nonsense you’d expect from a “fiscally conservative but socially liberal” old rich white businessman who’s politically ignorant but doesn’t know it.
His number one policy concern is the deficit, which he thinks is too big. His number one political concern seems to be that the parties are both equally “too extreme,” which isn’t close to being true. It’s this false centrist narrative—and the team of consultants he’s paying—that has led Schultz to hallucinate some broad path to the presidency, straight down what he perceives to be “the middle.”
He would have cut taxes, but maybe not so much for corporations and maybe a little more for those at the lower end of the income distribution. (Any tax cut, it’s worth mentioning, grows the deficit, so maybe he’s not as concerned about it as he suggests.)
That’s about as much detail as we have on Schultz’s tax policy, because when he was asked about specifics he said, “I don’t want to talk in the hypothetical about what I would do as president.” Good to know! This should be a remarkably short presidential campaign.
I don't "talk in the hypothetical" is rich people's way of taking the 5th. https://t.co/5CZUEXfeiK— LOLGOP? (@LOLGOP) January 28, 2019
And it should be, his campaign is doomed right out of the gate. Simply put, there’s no constituency for Schultz’s bland “platform.” He wants to reduce the deficit, but maybe not through the very popular method of taxing wealthy people and corporations more. He also wants to cut entitlement spending, which is so unpopular not even Republicans are pretending otherwise anymore. Medicare for all and a jobs guarantee? Schultz doesn’t think those things are realistic.
Only a nation with the fabulous wealth of Canada or the UK could pull this off. https://t.co/DZqXTr3ju0— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) January 28, 2019
Schultz seems to be encouraged by polls that show a plurality of voters consider themselves to be “independent,” but when you dig a little deeper into the polling data it becomes clear that these so-called “independents” are actually secret partisans who reliably vote for one of the two major parties. You can’t cobble together a coalition of these “independents” because they want very different things, and the things they do agree on are things Schultz has already ruled out.
Medicare for All? Majority support. Wealth tax? Majority support. $15 minimum wage? Majority support.— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) January 28, 2019
Democrats have largely rolled over for these ideas *because they’re popular.* There is no centrist constituency crying out for tuition costs to keep outpacing inflation.
If you want to know what a successful third party campaign might look like, imagine a non-fake version of Trump’s 2016 pledge to combine culturally conservative politics with universal health care and pro-worker initiatives.— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) January 28, 2019
The only things left to run on are the kind of boilerplate bumper sticker slogans every political candidate embraces—“America is good,” “We need a strong economy,” and “Let’s come together as a nation.” ZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
It feels good to be here. My hope is to share my truth, listen to yours, build trust, and focus on things that can make us better.— Howard Schultz (@HowardSchultz) January 27, 2019
Still, Democrats are worried his anti-Trump posturing could siphon off enough swing state voters to hand Trump another electoral college victory. To discourage Schultz from ultimately embarrassing himself and possibly dooming the country to another four years of Trump as president, liberals, leftists, and others are roasting Schultz on Twitter even harder than Starbucks roasts their beans.
I have seen enough data over many years to know that anyone running for POTUS as an independent will split the anti-incumbent, anti-Trump vote. The stakes couldn’t be higher. We can not afford the risk of spoiler politics that result in Trump’s re-election.— howard wolfson (@howiewolf) January 28, 2019
Schultz is getting knocked for his vanity:
HOWARD SCHULTZ: I’m not doing this for me, I’m doing it for America.— Jesse Lehrich (@JesseLehrich) January 28, 2019
AMERICA: sir, your logo is your name with your name written over it. pic.twitter.com/nCH3lMNbo4
The folly of his corporate agenda masquerading as “centrism”:
some people really really love a piping hot shot of espresso— Ariel Edwards-Levy (@aedwardslevy) January 28, 2019
other people really really love a nice chilly cold brew
surely this means everyone will clamor for a big mug of lukewarm coffee
REPUBLICANS: concentration camps for children— The Give Smart Guy (@BobbyBigWheel) January 28, 2019
DEMOCRATS: no concentration camps
HOWARD SCHULTZ: concentration camps for preteens https://t.co/KxCi6USrpU
And just generally being out of touch, while pretending he’s speaking for some hidden “silent majority”:
"It feels good" to be on Twitter is the kind of statement that should be disqualifying for any candidate seeking public office. https://t.co/uTAaP9eNNT— Tim Tagaris (@ttagaris) January 27, 2019
Of course the Starbucks guy spelled "getting Trump reelected" wrong https://t.co/1UpEl3xWED— Orli Matlow (@HireMeImFunny) January 28, 2019
Reject flat white https://t.co/Q3CbZxwITk— Glenn Fleishman (@GlennF) January 28, 2019
Hi Howard, I’ll have a Venti Go Fuck Yourself & my name for the cup is “I’m a Dusty Old Billionaire, But Rather Than Retire I’d Like to Guarantee You Can’t Afford Insulin for Your Daughter Betsy.”— rob delaney (@robdelaney) January 28, 2019
Howard Schultz gave up on owning an NBA team bc it was too hard to get the arena refurbished and now he would like to be President of the United States— ☕netw3rk (@netw3rk) January 28, 2019
It's really touching to see everybody on this website unite to tell a coffee billionaire to eat shit— Centrist rally organizer (@InternetHippo) January 28, 2019
It also turns out, in a surprise to exactly no one, Schultz isn’t very generous (guess that’s just “fiscal conservatism”:
I love telling this story:— Chirping from the bench (@taterpie) January 28, 2019
When Howard Shultz bought the Sonics, my friend worked there in sales. For Christmas, Shultz gave everyone a Starbucks gift card, for $3.
Back then you couldn't buy a Sbx card for less than $5. He had those $3 cards custom made.
(Here’s another hilarious thread if you’re interested.)
Trump responded to Schultz’s presidential trial balloon by basically daring him to jump in:
Howard Schultz doesn’t have the “guts” to run for President! Watched him on @60Minutes last night and I agree with him that he is not the “smartest person.” Besides, America already has that! I only hope that Starbucks is still paying me their rent in Trump Tower!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 28, 2019
Is he... Is he saying America already has a dumb person for president? https://t.co/9UlB2keAAU— Jared Rizzi (@JaredRizzi) January 28, 2019
If Schultz decides to run as an independent, @realDonaldTrump should give Starbucks their Trump Tower space rent free! It would be a gift.— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) January 28, 2019
Some people think Trump is being strategic by taunting Schultz to get in the race, knowing he would pull votes from a Democratic challenger. Maybe so! Then again, maybe he’s just reflexively lashing out at someone who criticized him.