As an Independent voter, I was looking forward to the Howard Schultz Townhall on CNN. While I share some of the concerns expressed by Democrats about his potential candidacy helping President Trump get reelected, I was very interested in hearing from a displaced Democrat. I am his political counterpart, a displaced Republican. For this reason, he had a great chance to really appeal to me. The hyperpartisan political climate of today is creating an untethered middle that is willing to listen to moderate voices without regard to where they originate politically. I came, I saw, I yawned.
Not to be overly harsh, but the Howard Schultz Townhall was an hour of my life I won’t get back. He should’ve called it the “Howard Schultz Meet and Greet“. What I expected was 45 minutes worth of passionately expressed ideas that compel me to get excited about his candidacy. What I got was the assurance that, despite his complete lack of anything vaguely resembling an idea, as a billionaire businessman he’ll figure it out once he gets there. Gee… where have I heard that before?
I fundamentally agree with Howard on the drift of both parties to their extremes. Furthermore, I believe he’s right in saying that millions of us have been displaced by both parties. I can personally attest to the fact that we are indeed looking for a solution to the problem. The problem is that he seems to think that this agreement, void of any ideas or plans, is enough.
Howard Schultz Townhall highlights:
The list is short. I liked what he had to say on guns. He supports the 2nd Amendment. He believes in your right to own a gun, and he believes in the Government’s responsibility to regulate the militia. The rare, virtually extinct creature that accepts both parts of the Amendment. It was one of the rare moments of the night where he actually expressed an idea. Get military grade weapons off the streets. Yet no details on how he could do that.
He said some other things that I liked, but the whole thing came across as an infomercial for his time as CEO at Starbucks. There, he did great things on education for his employees. Furthermore, he responded well to PR debacles like the arrest of two black customers at a location in Philadelphia. It was largely left to me to figure out how this would translate to a Howard Schultz Presidency.
Howard Schultz Townhall low points:
Poppy Harlow spent the better part of the night begging Howard to make some kind of substantive stance on something. Schultz is to politics what Floyd Mayweather is to boxing. He dodged points and weaved answers as if his only goal was to still be alive when the meeting was over. If that was his goal, it was a raging success. Examples:
- Howard was asked if he feared being a spoiler for Trump. He quibbled over the definition of “spoiler”. Harlow asked if he ran and realized in the fall of 2020 that the numbers weren’t there, would he back out? He seemed poised to make a promise, but limped away with a pathetic observation. If he thinks he has no chance now, he won’t run at all. That should’ve sufficed as his concession speech.
- As the former CEO of Starbucks, Schultz owns millions of dollars of stock in the company. When asked if he won would he divest, he refused to make a commitment.
- Schultz was asked if he would release his taxes. He assured Harlow that he would. She asked to see them. He countered by saying he’s not officially running yet. Poppy quickly pointed out that we’ve heard that line before.
The Howard Schultz Townhall was an unmitigated disaster. He came across as a slightly more reasonable version of President Trump. He’s a guy that is good at identifying the problem and pointing it out. However, he lacks any realistic ideas of how to solve the problem, and he doesn’t have the government experience to convince me that he can get it done in the event that he were to fall and land on an idea.
Worse yet, if he were to win he would have a bigger problem than President Trump on this one count. He’s a man without a party. President Trump has struggled to get legislation through even with approval ratings of 80% in his party. By contrast, neither Democrats nor Republicans would have any incentive to work with Schultz. In fact, they would both benefit politically from stonewalling him. Knowing this, Schultz needed to come to the table with ideas that would appeal to both sides. Instead, he came only with criticisms of both parties.
Howard Schultz isn’t ready for the big time. I believe that he means well. I agree that both parties are moving towards their extremes. A President needs to more than simply observe this. I can do that. We need a President who can fix it. I can’t do that. Howard Schultz gave me no hope that he could either. His only goal in the Howard Schultz Townhall on CNN should’ve been to make the case that he has the ideas to bridge this political divide. He either didn’t get that, or he completely blew his chance. Howard Schultz convinced me last night that he’s well qualified to serve hot coffee. He has no business getting in this Presidential race. Grind beans, Howard.