Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz turned up at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, today to remind people of his ongoing threat to run for president as a "centrist independent" or "someone who believes in nothing very strongly." Schultz doesn't mind if his vanity campaign helps re-elect Donald Trump, as all experts in electoral politics and basic math predict, because he thinks Democrats are the absolute worst. They keep trying to "inspire" voters with "ambitious" proposals. Meanwhile, Schultz is here to deliver platitudes funded from sales of overpriced burnt coffee.

Schultz has given dull, vapid speeches before but he decided to go double or nothing during his "featured session" with Dylan Byers. We're starting to feel like Schultz pursued a career in peddling legal stimulants so the people who spent any significant amount of time around him could stay awake. What new and exciting non-policies and compromised beliefs did he have to share?

SCHULTZ: I'm not running against the Democrats, I'm running because the two-party system is broken, dysfunctional and in need of great repair.

Seems to us that one boring man "repairing" the two-party system all by himself is more of a pipe-dream than the Green New Deal or anything else Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or Elizabeth Warren is passionate about. Schultz sets us straight though with some de-motivational speaking.

SCHULTZ: [AOC and Warren] love the country. They have their core beliefs. But you have to ask yourselves, is any of this possible?

He condescendingly claims these women have ideas that are "well-intentioned" but "were never gonna happen." If so, that's probably because of billionaire blowhards like himself. You gotta love the Droopy Dog candidate. Is he running for president or auditioning for the role of the Smug Asshole in every biopic ever made who is always so confidently wrong: "No one will ever listen to a Beatle, or waste time on a Facebook, or watch a movie on their laptop. Blockbuster today! Blockbuster forever!"

But Schultz is not entirely without hope. He still believes in the power of Americans to join together despite all odds and make him president.

"No dream is possible but mine" is a great slogan for the American Society of Narcissists, but it's less uplifting in this context. Apparently, Schultz plans to make his dream a reality by simply denying reality.

SCHULTZ: We know that life-long Republicans don't want to re-elect Donald Trump.

This is a lie. Trump is overwhelmingly popular with Republicans. Granted, some Republicans have ditched the party and now identify as independents, but if they chose to vote for Schultz, it would clearly just be a protest vote. A viable third party candidate would need to win over a significant number of Democrats, and Schultz is currently less popular among Democrats than greenhouse gases. It doesn't help when he literally blames us for homelessness.

SCHULTZ: These problems are not going to be solved if a Democrat wins the White House in 2020.

Yes, let's consider every problem Republicans almost "solved" during their two years of unified government: They almost freed millions of Americans from the tyranny of health care. They reverse Robin Hood-winked the hell out poor people to give the richest Americans a tax cut. They also put a creep credibly accused of sexual assault on the Supreme Court.

Schultz is doing the Republicans work for them -- perhaps intentionally -- by trying to frame Democrats like Warren and Ocasio-Cortez as either socialist ideologues or cynical scam artists offering Americans unrealistic "fantasies." This is a kitchen-sink prosecution: "The defendant on trial for insider trading also takes their shoes and socks off on airplanes."

SCHULTZ: The vast majority of Americans are not going to embrace socialism.

No Democrat has proposed actual socialism. As Nate Silver observed, many Americans like policies that conservatives decry as "socialist" while recoiling from the specific "socialist" label. It doesn't help when scuzzballs like Schultz insist on linking socialism with murder states. Someone in the audience asked Schultz to just define what he thought socialism even was and the best he could do was answer, "Just look at Venezuela." Imagine if Ocasio-Cortez or Warren just started dismissing capitalism with the glib response, "Just look at the Antebellum South."

Schultz continues to demonstrate that he knows nothing about anything. He has a Green Lantern approach to the presidency, except he is more of a disaster than the 2011 Ryan Reynolds film.

SCHULTZ: I think businesses can do more and I can convince businesses to do that because it will be in their interest.

LOL. It's in businesses' "best interest" to fuck over employees for the immediate benefit of their shareholders. You have to legally change that through government intervention. Asking nicely at the country club won't do the trick. Nor will giving them more tax breaks.

SCHULTZ: I do think we need to raise taxes on the wealthy and we need to increase the tax rate on corporate America.

BYERS: By how much?

SCHULTZ: I don't know what the number is. People a lot smarter than me can...


SER out.

[WaPo / Twitter / NBCNews]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."


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