VENTI EGO

Liberals spook easily, a reasonable response to a political lifetime of limited success in elections and – notably – some defeat snatched from the jaws of victory experiences like 2016. I get it. The sky is always falling, everything will turn out badly somehow, and the worst will inevitably happen. Frankly that's not a bad set of expectations; at least it turns the successes into pleasant surprises.

But listen. Just try to trust me on this one, even though you won't and possibly can't trust me or anyone else who tells you this: Howard Schultz's candidacy is a joke. And not in the way Trump's candidacy was a joke that appealed really strongly to a demographic that actually exists. It's the kind of joke everyone will forget about rapidly and will get more embarrassing the longer it is drawn out.

If you don't want to read any further arguments, just remember this: a man with billions of dollars, one week into a heavily covered media rollout of his supposed presidential campaign, has fewer than 60,000 followers on Twitter and 30,000 on Facebook. And half of that is journalists. The other half is people making fun of him. In another context, that's 60,000 fewer followers than *I* have on Facebook. Think about that. And this guy claims that what he's proposing to do is a thing people are clamoring for. Social media follows are a very cheap and easy thing to buy, but also to grow organically. Post literally anything people find funny, interesting, cute, etc and follows will grow because it costs the user literally nothing. Oh, this seems interesting I guess (Click!) And he can't even do that.

There simply is no audience for this outside of campaign consultants (neatly divided into two camps: people who think the West Wing was real, and people who know Schultz is a moron but are happy to take his money) and the small portion of the electorate that actually has centrist politics (which, in reality rather than in imaginations, is not many). The Democratic primary field already offers an array of options for Ned Flanders types who just want everyone to get along but don't want any policy changes, with the exception of gun control, to the left of like, John Kasich. Bloomberg. Biden. Gillibrand, probably. Maybe Booker soon. Aside from calling themselves Democrats, what is the difference between these people and Schultz?

What Schultz is banking on is someone like Sanders winning the Democratic nomination – because if that doesn't happen, his "Oh my god, look how extreme and partisan both of the choices are!" message is dead on arrival. Even if that does happen (which is unlikely) he can't answer the obvious question: in a "Far right vs. far left" election theoretically crying out for some moderate Voice of Sanity independent, why would it be him? Why wouldn't established figures with name recognition and political experience (Bloomberg? Kasich?) fill that void? Why wouldn't some billionaire who actually has a personality and isn't some forgettable, boring, cliche-spouting guy who looks like your dentist run for it? If there's one thing this country is not short on, it's rich guys who seem to think they'd be great as elected officials. Some of them can even speak in a way that doesn't make everyone sleepy.

I can't tell if this guy has the energy to make until the Spring of 2020 – until he knows who the Democratic nominee is – but if anyone around him is being honest with him this will be over quickly and he'll go slinking back to the Aspen Ideas Festival and Davos where rooms full of people will nod politely at the kind of pabulum he's selling. He is reportedly paying his consultants obscene amounts of money, so unfortunately that guarantees that at least one group of people will continue to tell him this is a great idea.

We are likely to start seeing more of this in the future, as the rich get obscenely richer and they realize that while a presidential campaign is an expensive thing, it's the kind of expensive thing that a billionaire can easily buy. But of all the world's billionaires, I can't think of one less interesting and less likely to garner any support beyond the tepid praise of Chuck Todd and Jeff Flake. Not only is Schultz the answer to a question nobody is asking, he's not even a good answer.

27 thoughts on “VENTI EGO”

  • Howard Schulz is a dickhead. His coffee is shit.

    I would vote for him if he got the nomination. I would vote for Hilary, AGAIN.

    Bernies a fucking hero–until he gets the job, then he will also be a compromised jerk. It's impossible to not be if you've spent over 40 years not being a career pol. I don't have a prog to vote for where I live, beyond the lone person who ran for the House against Katko.

    I would be perfectly happy to have anyone who's NOT TRYING to fuck me.

  • Memory says the equivalents of billionaires and ex-military men played Important Roles in the later stages of the Roman Republic. So there's precedent for someone like Howard Schulz getting involved in politics.

    And then Augustus came along and changed the game.

  • Erich Russell says:

    That "giant sucking sound" you will be hearing is between Schulz's wallet and his consultants. The end will be at hand when he touches Lieberman for his Veep. For Steve Schmidt this is a lateral move from Huckabee.

  • You're right, he's a nobody. But US politics is SO compromised that if someone decided to make a somebody out of a nobody, it could be him. Schulz helps Trump, right? Trump's core of supporters is solid, it's the Dem side that needs to assemble a coalition of voters. So if Fox News or CNN decides this guy is the one, suddenly he starts getting 24/7 fawning press coverage about how he's liberal and moderate and good, and we end up with a 45%/15%/35% Trump/Schulz/Dem split, and four more years of our big orange boy.

    It could happen.

  • Bezos 2020!! Why vote for the lesser evil?

    But seriously, (to quote the great Nina Illingworth) Schultz has as much chance of becoming President as I do, and I'm not running.

  • Looks like another "But I'll use lube!" candidacy from here, which has a small positive, lube. Seriously, the Davos crowd should consider the implications of holding fortunes denominated in dollars if the economy of The United States collapses.

  • Captain Splendid says:

    The bit that floors me is that he's supposedly been 'researching' his independent run for months now, and he can't even answer the simplest of questions. He's making vanity runs for office look bad, and for that I am grateful.

  • Emerson Dameron says:

    It's Steve Forbes redux.

    What do you get for the narcissistic Captain Of Industry who has everything?

    Perot was at least charmingly insane.

  • Jimmy Dore had a good take on this. In that 60 Minutes video clip he shows, Schultz's eyes look odd and his hair is a strange blue. He doesn't even quite reach the uncanny valley level of near-realism; it's more like just plain android.

    @ mike shupp Sort of like the last minute or so of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (despite the Hollywood sword-and-sandals-epic campiness of that movie, there's a lot of interesting progressive-ish ideas expressed in there).

  • The issue is not whether Schultz can win — he obviously can't. The issue is that he would easily siphon off 1-2% of the vote from the Democratic nominee, guaranteeing another four years of Trump. This is why his candidacy's isn't a joke. If Bernie ran as an independent, it would do the same thing. Even Jill Stein's minuscule vote share would have, if given to Clinton, have flipped Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — and hence, the election.

  • Every Tweet ShittyCoffeeDude posts gets ratio'd like nobody's business. I hope there is at least one person in his circle who is reading all of it and will tell him the truth.

  • Burning River says:

    I know it's not the thrust of the post, but, lumping Gillibrand in with Biden and Bloomberg is, to me, a bit off. She's already spoken in favor of a federal jobs guarantee and Medicare for all, which are things that give Shultz a sad, and I'm sure Biden would hand wave away as a bag of magic beans.

    https://www.thenation.com/article/why-democrats-should-embrace-a-federal-jobs-guarantee/

    https://www.vox.com/2018/4/27/17281676/job-guarantee-design-bad-jobs-labor-market-federal-reserve

  • @ Corwin:

    Bernie DID run as an independent and an ANTI-Democratic Party candidate, at that. That point can be argued but only if you assume that, after 40 FUCKING YEARS, Bernie is not a career pol who will do whatever it takes to get what HE wants.

    Schultz is an asshole and from what I've read about him, he never hasn't been an asshole. He gleefully ran competition out of business and foisted his shit coffee on the world. I loved the comment (some years back in NatGeo, of all places–in a story about his bevviempire) by an Indian coffee expert who said that Howard Schultz didn't sell coffee, he sold milk.

    @ Lucy S.:

    I'd settle for a robust federal enforcement of anti-trust and other laws that might hamper their continued creation.

    @ Major Kong:

    FUCK. NO!!!!

    @ Emerson Dameron:

    I never found Perot charming. I never find any demagogic asshole, "Charming". I think that he wasn't insane. The current PouterUS is both demagogic and fucking insane.

  • @ democommie:

    Hear, hear. My "No thanks" can be broadly interpreted to cover the existence of billionaires, full stop, and I heartily endorse your suggested measures to curb their proliferation. And frankly, at this point I'm so fed up that I'm also open to even more "robust" solutions.

  • To my way of thinking, the only thing that would draw off potential Dem voters in the 2020 Presidential would be a well funded third party candidate even more progressive than Sen.'s Sanders/Warren. I'd be a bit surprised if the billionaires club isn't searching for such a stalking horse – it must have occurred to them.

    On a different note, the Nebraska Legislature will once again take up the topic of a constitutional convention. Here's a link to some additional Bill of Rights I wouldn't mind enshrined:

    https://www.gocomics.com/two-party-opera

    Of course, here in deep red country, the only reason stated for such a convocation would be term limits for congress, and a balanced budget (probably combined with some super majority provisions to raise taxes). No sensible person thinks such a convocation would stop there. After all, the NRA has some ideas…

  • @ Dave Dell:

    Them's my peeps out there in the Unicameral State. And yes, Gene Wilder's little speech to Cleavon Little about the "common clay of the New West…".

  • Howard Schultz can bite my shiny metal @$$. One can only hope he divides the Gang of Plutocrats' base, because he's sure as hell isn't gonna get my vote – and I consider myself a moderate.

    He seems to have mistaken "any government spending" for "deficit spending". Well, Skippy, if we hadn't been catering to your every need by cutting your tax rates, maybe we wouldn't *have* deficits now, would we?

  • The exhumed corpse of Charles "Sparky" Schulz would be preferable. I'm so fucking tired of these fat cat vanity projects.

  • Townsend Harris says:

    Six family members and friends in Michigan voted 'for Stein because Clinton is too centrist'.
    It's not anything any of them are proud of now, so they're not so dumb in the short run.
    Of course, their children will pay big time in the long run.

  • Even Jill Stein's minuscule vote share would have, if given to Clinton,

    Why would you ever do that bit of wishful thinking? The general characteristic of 3rd party voters, that aren't heavily right wing, like the Constitution Party, is that they don't like either party. Typically about half wouldn't vote for either major party candidate, and the other half will roughly split.

    From the people that actually studied it, rather than just making stuff up to suit their agenda, if you include both Stein and Johnson and no vote, Clinton, loses Florida, wins Michigan and ends in a toss-up in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. So since, a) Clinton probably wouldn't have won even with the extra votes of Johnson, and b) Johnson got 3x the vote of Stein, it seems highly unlikely that Stein by herself cost Clinton anything.

    So the numbers are out there, try to not argue like a Republican

    https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2016/11/11/13576798/jill-stein-third-party-donald-trump-win

  • Jill Stein is a p.o.s.

    It is extremely easy to see everything clearly, after the fact. I want somebody who can tell me that my candidate is going to win and then not back pedal at the speed of light when it doesn't happen.

    Did I mention that Jill Stein is a piece of shit? She is.

  • Jill Stein had no influence on the election. Zero. None. Absolutely zero percent of the people who voted for Stein in the context of the 2016 would have ever voted for Clinton. Stein's ascendance as permanent Green Party candidate is why I am no longer a Green, because Greens that actually care about political power have left the party. The Green Party is little more than aggregate leftish agitators. I campaigned for Nader twice and McKinney, but neither I, nor anyone that I worked with is working for Jill Stein. But aside from my personal anecdotes, there is plenty of data out there showing that no one stumping for Stein had Clinton as their #2.

    And this Starbucks dude isn't much more of a threat to the Democrats than Stein. If you remember Trump was the guy who was pulling the socially liberal republicans away from the crazies. Starbucks dude is much more likely to get those votes then the rare finscal conservative Democrats left in the country. At best it's going to be an equal divide, like Perot.

    That said, this guy isn't going anywhere. He probably won't be on the ballot in 5 states.

  • @ Michael:

    Stein did have an influence on the election. as did Johnson and Bernie Sander. While the vote counts may have been negligible in terms of carrying any states they definitely reflected that some people are so fucking clueless that they would vote for people who are demonstrably unfit for the job by any reasonable measurement/criteria OR they pouted and stayed home, 'cuz THEIR candidate was dissed or cheated in the primaries or whatever.

    I would far rather have a DEEPLY FLAWED and duplicitous Hilary than the fucking monster that writhes behind the Oval Office desk. Then again, I've only been watching the GOP.O.S. divide the nation (with the help of far-left idiots) with their racist, exclusionary, anti-everything-that-is-decent crap for about the last 50 years–in real time.

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