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Won’t Someone Please Take the Politics Out of Politics


As Paul observed over the weekend former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is pondering a vanity wank campaign for president. Because of course the obvious takeaway from the failure of the Trump administration is that America needs a self-promoting business guy with no relevant expertise and no longstanding ties to either political party to be president. I see no flaws in this theory. Anyway, he appeared on 60 minutes, and Dave Weigel was kind enough to link us to the video:

Let’s also look at a bit of the transcript. He gets right to the point:

Scott Pelley: Why run as an Independent? Your views have always aligned with the Democratic Party.

Howard Schultz: That’s true. I’ve, you know, I’ve been a lifelong Democrat. I look at both parties– we see extremes on both sides well, we are sitting, today, with approximately $21.5 trillion of debt, which is a reckless example, not only of Republicans, but of Democrats, as well, as a reckless failure of their constitutional responsibility.

Yup — this is a classic No Labels Unity Pain Caucus campaign. And leaving aside the fact that deficit scoldery has no mass constituency, this also neatly illustrates another reason why focusing on deficits is a sucker bet for Democrats. We’re now on our second iteration of a fiscally responsible Democratic administration being followed by a Republican administration going on a debt-fueled orgy of upper-class tax cuts and military spending, and the reaction of virtually all professional deficit scolds is Both Sides Do It, in part because what they really care about are cuts to Social Security and Medicare.

Scott Pelley: Do you worry that you’re going to siphon votes away from the Democrats and, thereby, ensure that President Trump has a second term?

Howard Schultz: I wanna see the American people win. I wanna see America win. I don’t care if you’re a Democrat, Independent, Libertarian, Republican. Bring me your ideas. And I will be an independent person, who will embrace those ideas. Because I am not, in any way, in bed with a party.

Ralph Nader wants an independent billionaire to save us, so it’s only fair for a billionaire potential political candidate to have mastered Saint Ralph’s vocabulary of vacuous non-sequiturs, which he uses to try to evade the obvious fact that his vanity campaigns carry massive downsides with zero upside.

Now, this isn’t to say that I think Schultz will be able to do what Nader did in 2000. Incoherent “centrist” (or, in the case of Johnson, “political equivalent of a bong hit”) campaigns generally draw equally from both parties to the extent they get any traction at all. I also seriously doubt that he’ll persist with the hard work of getting ballot access once he sees the response he gets if he starts a campaign. But his campaign merits as much mockery as it will receive and more for obvious reasons:

Luckily, a man in his position can afford to be made to look ridiculous. If they do an Axios primary, though, he has a great shot!

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