Editorials

We’ll have a Venti and budget bagel

Former Starbucks CEO and Chairman Howard Schultz speaks during a book promotion tour on Monday in New York. Democrats across the political spectrum lashed out at the billionaire businessman after he teased the prospect of an independent 2020 bid.
Former Starbucks CEO and Chairman Howard Schultz speaks during a book promotion tour on Monday in New York. Democrats across the political spectrum lashed out at the billionaire businessman after he teased the prospect of an independent 2020 bid. AP

Did that skinny latte with legs taste any different this morning? Didn’t think so.

To hear a lot of professional Democrats and Beltway opinionistas tell it, Howard Schultz, the man who took Starbucks coffee shops global, is poised to hand America over to Donald Trump for another four years. How? By splitting the anti-Trump vote between the independent billionaire and whichever Democrat survives the primary mosh pit to emerge with the party’s official blessing. Oh what a bitter brew that would be.

We’re not so sure, or worried. Trump’s poll numbers are in the frozen-yogurt aisle. He could rally, but it’s more likely that he’s finally overplayed his World’s Greatest Negotiator act. Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un, Recep Erdogan all have had their way with The Donald; now, too, has Nancy Pelosi. Once people see you for who you really are, they can’t unsee you.

Our guess is that most Republicans are actively seeking a better president. That might mean John Kasich of Ohio, or Ben Sasse of Nebraska or maybe Mitt Romney – men who put more value on their integrity than anything Trump had to offer. Or it might mean Schultz.

Sunday on “60 Minutes,” Schultz told a great story about growing up poor in New York’s projects. But about policies and ideas, he offered a Venti-size cup of, well, lukewarm water.

If Democrats are worried that none of their 20 or so candidates can do better, well, they have far bigger problems. Excerpts from what others have written:

San Diego Union-Tribune – Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz’s interest in running for president as a centrist independent focused on the existential threat posed by America’s $21 trillion national debt should intrigue and please voters who are fed up with the irresponsibility of both political parties. ... Donald Trump’s budgets show he doesn’t care about the national debt. Many Democrats support expanded health care spending and free college without clear explanations of how to pay for them. ... Many of those who are focused on the divisive politics of the moment blasted Schultz in the belief that a self-funding billionaire centrist could hand re-election to Trump. But the last time this happened, when Ross Perot ran in 1992, Democrat Bill Clinton beat incumbent George H.W. Bush. ... (A) shocking showing that helped create a brief era of relative fiscal prudence in Washington.

Chicago Tribune Can a billionaire barista also build a national political organization and make a serious run for president as an independent? Good question. America hasn’t seen a wealthy outsider candidate from the business world become president since, um, two years ago. President Donald Trump’s election was a triumph of showmanship over expertise. Depending on who’s doing the talking, Trump’s term in office is either proud proof that anyone can grow up to be president, or dire evidence that only seasoned political figures should get the job. ... Democratic Party activists (have) done the math and determined Schultz can only be a spoiler who siphons away enough Democratic votes to give Trump a victory. Allow us to point out gently how Democratic officials misjudged the last race; they were sure Hillary Clinton would win. It’s awfully early to be anticipating the outcome of 2020. ... It promises to be a wide-open contest on the Democratic side. Whether Trump faces a primary challenge – whether he even chooses to run – isn’t yet known. The more choices for voters, the more opportunities they have to express preferences and shape the national discussion. ... So let’s not rule out an astonishing upset by the cappuccino kid. Remember 2016.

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