Human Vortex Howard Schultz Had A Party, And Nobody Came
Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, whose name none of us would know if there were a benign God, visited Indiana Thursday to speak to an invite-only crowd of hostages at Purdue University. He did not formally launch his burnt-coffee-fueled presidential run but the threat remains. Schultz wants to stop radical liberals from forcing a moderate tax increase onto billionaires -- pardon us, "people of means." He could just donate heavily to a shiny new Koch Brothers puppet, but like a boring Bruce Wayne, he prefers a hands-on approach. To the Rich Jerk Mobile!
Schultz's supposed "major policy address" demonstrated that he has nothing to offer but polite platitudes and a punchable face. It also demonstrated that nobody cares.
Here's a sampling of some dumb shit he said:
COFFEE CREEP: Running for president … as an independent centrist would completely free me from being beholden to special interest groups and extreme party ideologies.
He keeps saying this and it keeps getting dumber every time we hear it. Great, President Starbucks isn't "beholden" to special interests and extremists from either party. But you know who still is? The rest of the goddamn Congress and all the governors, mayors, dog catchers and pretty much everyone he'd have to work with to get anything done. They'd also all hate him. Remember Mitch McConnell's noble goal of obstruction to prevent Barack Obama from even tying his shoes? Now double that.
Also, Schultz is himself a special interest. He currently holds about 37 million shares in Starbucks, a global corporation with 20,000 stores in 62 countries. Yes, he's no longer CEO, but unlike us average working slobs whose former places of employment could burn to the ground for all we care, Schultz's fortune is dependent upon the coffee giant's continued financial health.
Schultz's spokesperson Tucker Warren claims that if Schultz runs, he'd "step away" from his assets. He could run clear across town from them. They'd still exist, and he'd still exist. We already went through this with Donald Trump.
COFFEE CREEP: Some on the far left want to ban guns altogether... The far right has pushed back on even reasonable limitations on gun ownership.
Schultz's venti-style campaign requires reshaping reality so that both parties are equally awful. This is just a lie. For instance, no major elected Democrat has called for banning all guns. Many have proposed banning assault rifles, which were already against the law during the good old centrist days of the 1990s. Assault weapon bans have proven popular -- unfortunately, usually right after kids are murdered in schools. The "far right" on this issue is the entire Republican party, which is in the tank for the gun lobby.
Schultz argued with a straight face that gerrymandering is something "both parties" do to create "hyper partisan" districts. This is a lie. Gerrymandering overwhelmingly benefits Republicans. Democrats needed almost a blue tsunami in 2018 to overcome it -- and in some states they had that blue tsunami and still lost. Democrats also beat Republicans in suburban districts and red states like Arizona with a moderate, problem-solving message. The difference between them and Schultz is they know what they're talking about.
COFFEE CREEP: Now there are critics who condemn me for even thinking about running outside of the two party system for fear it would lead to President Trump's re-election. Respectfully here's my response to that: Trump must not serve a second term.
Respectfully, that response is nonsense. "What I propose doing has the historical precedent of ensuring Trump's re-election, but Trump must not win! See? I said words after other unrelated words."
COFFEE CREEP: Given the choice between [Trump] and a far-left Democrat, Donald Trump would win reelection.
Sure, that's what he thinks. If he genuinely fears Democrats nominating a candidate with a Che Guevara platform, he should use his billions to try to prevent it. All is not lost. No one's cast a primary vote yet. We haven't even started pretending to care about Iowa. Oh, he's also lying again. He lies an awful lot for someone who claims Americans are desperate for honesty in the post-Trump era. He's ready for his Fox News close-up.
Wasn't there supposed to be policy in this speech? Oh, right, Schultz swears he'll fix our broken health care system through the power of white male centrism.
COFFEE CREEP: The truth is that healthcare costs are the biggest driver of unaffordable care.
COFFEE CREEP: Yet neither side has developed, let alone offered, a credible plan to reduce costs by increasing competition. Or requiring more transparency on prices from hospitals and drug companies. Or investing in preventive care.
This fool is either a lying weasel or he doesn't know what the Affordable Care Act is.
Then this happened.
Jeb! Bush's campaign died so that future candidates would know enough not to beg people to clap for them. Is Schultz just recycling the most cringe-worthy moments from failed presidential runs? Is he going to try riding in a tank next?
Schultz's early polling numbers are
awful. Two weeks into his vanity project, only 20 percent of voters support him (the rest fell asleep watching him). He ranks below Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, who isn't even officially running, and New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who -- though we love her -- has probably already lost. But despite those awful numbers, polling does show he elects Trump. This should convince a rational plutocrat to just stay home and watch the 2020 race from his couch, but we're probably not that lucky.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He recently fled Seattle, where he did theatre work for Book-It Rep and Cafe Nordo.