Howard Schultz

Everybody Hates Howard Schultz

Behind the usual partisan contempt for deficit-minded centrism lies an accurate critique that the billionaire outsider has naive, do-something ideas.


Like college basketball players from Virginia, would-be independent presidential candidate Howard Schultz has been on television an awful lot over the past week. Unlike the Cavaliers, though, Schultz sure has a habit of getting dunked on.

This testy exchange Friday with MSNBC anchor Ali Velshi, greeted with the requisite "Ali Velshi WRECKS Howard Schultz" headlines, gives a sense:

Schultz has also made the TV rounds with Fox News Channel's Gillian Turner, CNN's S.E. Cupp, Fox Business Network's Liz Claman, Cheddar's Baker Machado, and most notably in a Fox News town hall last Thursday co-anchored by Bret Baier and Martha McCallum. It was there, while discussing the complex issue of immigration policy, that the get-'er-done pragmatist married the hoariest of bipartisan do-something clichés—"we're not going to leave that room until we solve the problem"—to, uh, Clint Eastwood's infamous (if underrated) empty-chair routine at the 2012 Republican National Convention:

The reviews from across the political spectrum have not been flattering. A sampling: "Howard Schultz only has one idea about politics, and it's bad," "Howard Schultz Needs An Issue To Run On," "Dumb Starbucks Man Has Precisely Two Thoughts," and so on. And while some of the revulsion is either spoiler-based or tethered to Schultz's persistent foregrounding of debt and deficits being an urgent problem—a notion that is no longer welcome even rhetorically in the two major parties—some criticism does hit the mark. Particularly when it comes to Schultz's ideas about the Supreme Court.

To break the cycle of high-intensity partisan polarization around Supreme Court nominees, Schultz vowed last month that he would only pick prospective justices if they can be confirmed by a two-thirds majority in the U.S. Senate. "The courts have become yet another battlefield in the ongoing war between Democratic and Republican leaders," he declared. "These battles have undermined our faith in the rule of law and the impartiality of the entire judicial system. All of this has to change."

Well. That standard, applied retroactively, would remove from the court Brett Kavanaugh (who was confirmed by a 50-48 vote), Neil Gorsuch (54-45), Elena Kagan (63-37), Samuel Alito (58-42), and Clarence Thomas (52-48). Jacking up the approval bar will almost surely embolden, rather than disincentivize, opposition senators to let nominees for high-court vacancies lapse until a more congenial president wins the White House. As GQ's Charles P. Pierce acidly observed, "This idea is so stupid—so brainlessly, soft-headed, unicorn-farting-rainbows idiotic—I'm amazed that the No Labels crowd didn't pitch it years ago."

Undeterred, the prospective appointer in chief shared this deep Supreme Court thought:

There is a positive interpretation of this—of course it's good if appointees are fundamentally committed to the Constitution! But the sentiment also reflects the kind of exasperated ignorance one frequently finds among frustrated outsider (or even insider) centrists the world over. Politicians would surely do the thing I favor if it wasn't for those pesky corruptions!

In our populist and alienated times, there can and will be electorally winning combinations of outsider messenger and unsated issue. It's what Donald Trump did to the GOP with immigration and trade, what Bernie Sanders has been doing with Democrats on economic and regulatory progressivism, what Ron Paul tried to do with ending wars and the Federal Reserve.

As a messenger, Howard Schultz has been generating the highest unfavorability ratings in the presidential field. And in terms of a signature issue, it seems less to do with a specific policy or two, and more to do with a hunch—not unlike what Gary Johnson and Bill Weld campaigned on in 2016, though the latter eventually backed away from the approach—that there should be ample middle ground between the nativism of Trump and the democratic socialism of the Green New Deal.

Which is true enough. But whether that insight, absent a rallying cry, can be converted into effective politics, either by Howard Schultz or someone else, is very much an open question 574 days before Election Day.

NEXT: Trump Is Forcing Cuban Ballplayers To Suffer for the Sins of Their Government

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  1. All that matters to me in a candidate is that he says he’s in favor of doing good things and against doing bad things. And I think all reasonable people can agree with me on this point.

    1. I disagree. It’s more important that they support doing the right things and not the wrong things.

    2. I think all right-thinking people in this country are sick and tired of being told that ordinary, decent people are fed up
      in this country with being sick and tired. I’m certainly not! And I’m sick and tired of being told that I am.

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  2. If there are so many solutions hidden in the chasm between Trump and AOC, then perhaps he could give a couple examples.

    Likewise, if the dispute weren’t polarizing and contentious, it likely wouldn’t be elevated to SCOTUS.

  3. Schultz isn’t as terrible as Putin’s Puppet or Tulsi Gabbard. Other than that there’s not much credit I can give him.

    I especially dislike his idea that the government is “spending too much.” On the contrary, the government needs to spend trillions more than it currently is in the form of reparations for slavery.

    1. I’ve been working on my tan.

    2. caramel macchiatoes for all!

    3. So you’re in favor of economic collapse, then. Figures.

    4. DNA tests and family trees for everyone? What do we do for the individual who has 55% DNA of a plantation owner and 45% slave? Take money from him?

    5. Yes to everyone that is 1/1024 African American 😉

  4. Schultz’s negative ratings is due to the fact that he is an interloper in The Most Important Election of Forever. If you can find something he said or did that can credibly displayed as terrible, that’s just icing on the cake.

    1. He founded Starbucks. That’s pretty questionable.

  5. I don’t hate him. I’m tolerant and believe in diversity of thought.

    Have a nice day

  6. I don’t get it.
    The left applauds millionaires like Michael Moore and billionaires like Gates.
    So why wouldn’t the left go into a nut roll when another rich liberal run for POTUS?

    1. At some point you have to say the right things and Schultz doesn’t say the right things.

      1. The right thing is “what’s your account number so I can send you my donation?”

      2. It does feel to me that it’s mostly that he is running as an independent. The parties don’t like being denied their pound of flesh.

        1. I agree but my guess is if Schultz were running as a Democrat he’d just be sidelined instead of ridiculed.

    2. The problem is that he’s a rich liberal who can do MATH.

      Also, Bill Gates is currently off the invite list. Something about him being engaged in private charity to actually solve problems, instead of spending his billions promoting big government solutions.

      1. Also, Bill Gates is currently off the invite list. Something about him being engaged in private charity to actually solve problems, instead of spending his billions promoting big government solutions.

        Ummm…Common Core ring a bell? No? How’s about his support for gun control groups?

  7. “And while some of the revulsion is either spoiler-based or tethered to Schultz’s persistent foregrounding of debt and deficits being an urgent problem?a notion that is no longer welcome even rhetorically in the two major parties”

    Yes, which is why I rely on Reason to provide an outside-the-fray perspective on candidates who challenge the duopoly.

    Ha ha, just kidding.

    Obviously, his Supreme Court idea would simply fill the bench with unprincipled, resume-polishing swamp creatures. If that’s the basis of your criticism, OK. I would agree.

    But why not look at his other ideas, the ideas which seem to antagonize the duopolists (especially the idea of an independent candidate running at all)?

    Why not highlight his debt talk and challenge the other candidates – especially the Dems on whom you have schoolgirl crushes – to address his points?

  8. “As a messenger, Howard Schultz has been generating the highest unfavorability ratings in the presidential field.”

    Maybe if he got more even-handed coverage?

    I mean, I don’t even like him all that much, but come on, the people who hate on him hate him for reasons which make me like him more. Maybe the same phenomenon as Trump.

  9. Schultz wasn’t wrecked at all. Veshi just changed the subject with bullshit.

    Why would any independent thinker ever go on the shitshow callrd MSNBC? It’s a bunch of arrogant dimwits (like Ali Veshi) spouting socialist class warfare nonsense cheered on by an audience of imbecilic sheep.

    1. No one on MSNBC could dunk on a Nerf hoop 4 feet off the ground.

  10. Everybody Hates Howard Schultz

    Worst sitcom ever!

    1. The theme song is catchy !

  11. What’s so brutal about the Velshi/Schultz exchange?

    Schultz is talking about America, Velshi (like all leftists and their internationalst fetish about other countries) is talking about global income disparities. How can you argue in good faith this way?

    Rufus: I want to make things work for Canadians.

    1. As the saying goes, arguing with a leftist is like playing chess with a pigeon: they knock over all the pieces, shit all over the board, then strut around like they’ve won.

  12. I’d take Schultz over most of what the Dems and Republicans are peddling, and that’s the biggest motivation for the unbridled hatred he is getting, mostly from Democrats terrified that if you offered independents a moderate candidate, instead of forcing them to chose between Trump and an insane progressive, they could flock to a moderate.

  13. If having some naive, unworkable ideas was enough to disqualify presidential candidates, then Trump and every single one of the Democrats that have declared for 2020 would have been disqualified a long, long time ago.

    Right now Schultz is the only one talking sense on both the debt and the border, which is beyond frightening.

  14. Welch should like Schultz. He considers Russia to be an enemy nation.

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  16. I like the guy. Don’t agree w him on the SCOTUS nominees, but, he seems to be extremely competent and the duopoly needs a slap down. It’s fun to watch the MSM in panic mode, this early in the election cycle.

    1. Yeah, and you don’t even have to like him to think he’s worth serious coverage – at least as much so as the tax-leeches who the media try to pass off as Serious Candidates.

  17. Just noticed that the Obama/NY Times/Omar wing of the Democrats have lost again in trying to tell Israel to reject Netanyahu. Perhaps the Far Left isn’t as influential as it thinks it is.

  18. There seems to be a part of the headline missing, and I don’t know how I’m supposed to feel about that.

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  20. He’ll have my vote. When everyone has crap policy, all you got left is character.

  21. Now Libby Watson (Splinters) – she sounds like a dumb fuck.

    As do most of her “commenters”. Of course envy – that he’s actually built something of value and all she can do is bitch about it while trying to stay afloat financially – that has nothing to do with their hatred of the man.

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