Howard Schultz, the Starbucks multibillionaire who is publicly mulling an independent run for president in 2020, spent a bit more than an hour as the star of a CNN town hall forum to talk about his potential candidacy. What he didn’t do was answer the questions.
If you’ve read anything about it, you know that many Democrats are worried that if he runs, he might hurt the Democratic nominee more than Donald Trump — and that that might result in Trump’s re-election. He said he wouldn’t, but he didn’t promise to drop out if it looked like that might be the result. That’s just one example of a question he responded to but didn’t answer.
From the first question to the last, I didn’t hear one Schultz response that actually answered the question he was asked, and he was asked quite a few. It was – I don’t want to say impressive, because it was the opposite of that – but it was amazing.
He doesn’t like Trump. He’s a long-time Democrat, but doesn’t agree with the Democrats on several issues now. He’s been a moderate liberal, but the party is moving too far left for him. He started out poor with an abusive father and he’s richer than God now and not comfortable with some lefty Democratic talk about soaking the rich through taxes. He’s offended by some references to a very high marginal tax rate for the very rich. He says some tax increases would be good (no specifics) — but definitely not that super-high marginal rate on the wealthiest.
I do attach a fair amount of importance to that. I’ve seen many a politician fall short of my standards of candor and clear stands on the issues. But as the hour-plus wore on, I was waiting ever-more-hopelessly for him to take a stand on an issue and clearly state what he would try to do about it as president. Maybe there was one, but I missed it. Several times, he fell back on the excuse that he hasn’t decided yet whether to run. If that works for you, he’s your guy.
I haven’t found a link to a CNN video of the whole thing, but this page contains a whole of excerpts. If you decide to go through them, I’m asking you to do what I did. After each question, ask yourself what would constitute a straightforward, substantive answer. According to me, on that basis, he scored roughly zero on almost every question. If you bent over backward to grade on the curve, maybe on a couple of the questions you could give him a gentleman’s C instead of an F. But I’m not that much of a gentleman.