Left, Lefter, Latte

In the midst of the 2016 presidential campaign, someone who lived in my house decried the fact that the options offered were, how to say this kindly, unappealing. On the right was the singularly least qualified, and worst, candidate since Andrew Jackson, and probably ever. On the left was a former First Lady who deplored a significant portion of her countrymen and announced she would not be their president.

That the Democrats lost to Trump was the greatest humiliating defeat ever in the history of politics. That they didn’t win 80-20 is shocking, a point they missed as they cast blame around the fringes. So if they couldn’t pull off a win with Clinton, would they learn anything? Not that they didn’t get their message out well enough, but that their message, pushing ever-harder to toward progressive ends, was rejected. Nah.

Enter the possibility of a run by former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. So, what if he did?

In an interview with Scott Pelley on “60 Minutes” on Sunday, Schultz decried “extremes on both sides” and said he’s considering a run for president as a “centrist independent.” He hasn’t yet made up his mind, and perhaps the overwhelmingly negative reaction from almost all segments of the Democratic Party, as well as some NeverTrump Republicans, will dissuade him. There’s a danger, though, that the reality-distorting effects of being a billionaire will warp his judgment, convincing him that his business acumen is transferable to the realm of politics.

While Schultz, as opposed to Trump, is the real deal of the businessman-president model, because he’s actually a wealthy, successful businessman, it’s far too early to know whether he’s got the goods. It’s a fair question to ask whether “business acumen is tranferable to the realm of politics,” but it’s silly to conclude it’s dangerous before knowing.

But the reaction from the left is, well, informative.

Not only does the beloved ThinkProgress law guy already hate Schultz, but his call to arms is to boycott his former business to financially harm him for the audacity of running for office. Some might suggest this is a less-than-American thing to do. If you prefer a different candidate, support the candidate. Not Ian. Not this candidate. And Ian is hardly alone in seeing the path to political hegemony through harming his adversaries through secondary attacks.

Unlike Donald Trump, the former Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz is a genuinely successful businessman who built a company that’s become part of the daily lives of people across America. For this, those of us who are horrified by Trump’s relentless grifting should be grateful. It gives us something concrete to boycott should Schultz decide to launch a narcissistic spoiler campaign for president.

Is Schultz a narcissist? Is this a vanity run by a billionaire, which would not be the first time that happened?

By flirting with such a risk, Schultz is demonstrating a level of megalomaniacal recklessness that is itself disqualifying. “I think all American citizens should be worried about the possibility of Donald Trump being re-elected with 40 percent of the vote,” said Wolfson.

It hardly seems too much of a stretch to say that anyone running for President is a narcissist, a megalomaniac. Who else would put themselves, their family, through such a gauntlet? If that was disqualifying, we would be left with no one (which might not be the worst thing, but I digress). But the ad hominem attack isn’t the problem, just the handy tool of the vacuous.

The problem that is that Schultz is going to blow the best opportunity the radical left may ever get to reinvent America into a progressive Utopia. The set-up couldn’t be better, a president of such staggering incompetence and repulsiveness that no moderately intelligent person could deny.

This is their moment, when a political recreation of a nation in the image of social justice, quasi-socialism, can actually happen. It can happen. It can happen because as few Americans as support the radical progressive vision there may be, at least they’re better than Trump.

But give America a third option, one that isn’t leaping off the progressive ledge to a certain death below, the Democats will lose. Whether that means the independent candidate will win, or Trump will win, is unclear. Historically, the answer seems obvious, but this isn’t exactly Ross Perot’s sucking sound.

What is clear is that the Democrats are brutally well-aware that they do not have the support of a nation (remember that 80-20 win over Trump last election?), and that their party, their platform, their dreams of Utopia, cannot prevail because a majority of Americans do not support them. And since they’re right, even if few agree with them, there’s no possibility of change. They may market themselves more moderately than they would prefer, but it will be a beard for what they truly believe.

The set-up only flies if it’s Trump against a Democrat, be she left, lefter or leftest. Is Howard Schultz the spoiler who ruins everything? Beats me, but their fear is well-founded. As repugnant as Darth Cheeto may be, if the best the Dems have to offer is “we’re not Trump,” so forfeit your America for ours and suck it up, pretty much any alternative might do. The point is that the only way we end up in a progressive Utopia is if they go head-to-head with Trump, as any competent, reasonable alternative would be better. No wonder they want to kill it before it grows.

21 thoughts on “Left, Lefter, Latte

  1. John Barlerycorn

    You don’t watch 60 Minutes in slippers while continually adjusting your scrotum under your bathrobe right?

  2. Ben

    “and that their party, their platform, their dreams of Utopia, cannot prevail because a majority of Americans support them”

    Should this be “because a majority of Americans do not support them” or “unless a majority” or have I failed to understand the sentence? (This not-comment doesn’t need to be published)

    1. SHG Post author

      I know you were doing me a favor and didn’t expect me to post your comment, but just wanted to thank you for your additional corrections. Some days, I make too many typos for poor Beth to suffer and rely on the kindness of readers. Thank you, Ben.

      1. Casual Lurker

        I know I’m due some of the blame. Sorry for overloading you at at a time when you’re preparing today’s posts to go up, trying to accommodate other commenters, and probably a dozen other tasks we’re blissfully unaware of. My sincere apology.

        1. SHG Post author

          Why would your 327 comments as I’m trying to write a post cause me any focus issues? It’s not all about you, you know.

  3. Jake

    Bawooga! Bawooga! Sound the alarm! If Howie doesn’t run we might end up with a president as progressive as *ghasp* Franklin D. Roosevelt, plunging the nation into decades of hellish economic growth and record unemployment while modernizing infrastructure, cleaning the environment, and extending healthcare coverage to all. What a nightmare!

      1. Jake

        I want to say something witty like, yes, ghasp. It’s a portmanteau of gasp and ghastly but it’s really just a typo or possibly I forgot how to spell gasp or meant to say ghastly. It’s still early on the west coast. Pass me another steaming hot mug of anything but Starbucks.

          1. Fubar

            You’ll get tummy rubs, wide recognition,
            For preventing our slide to perdition.
            With prices like thatte
            For hot caffe latte,
            You’ll give Starbucks some real competition!

  4. rxc

    This is definitely too long, so if you don’t want to hear it or post it, go away. But someone has to say it.

    We already know how this turns out. There are a lot of former federal workers around who lived thru the first version of this, back in the 90s, when Newt and Al Gore decided to introduce business processes into the practice of running a government. It was a mess. A real mess.

    First of all, they did not remove ANY of the various requirements that dictate that the government operate in an open, fair way. All the notice and comment (the APA) requirements, NEPA, FOIA, the GAO, etc and all the various legal rulings from the lawyers and the courts. This stuff comes with a lot of procedural rules that take time to address. For every rulemaking with notice and comment, you must produce a written response to each comment. If you get hit with a half-million comments that are the same, you can group them, but not when they are all over the place.

    They did not remove any of the time-keeping requirements, or any of the various HR requirements, or give supervisors the authority to let people go home, or work from home, without going thru a multi-step evaluation process, including evaluating the home environment for safety issues (like children in the area, dangling extension cords, a proper chair with 5 feet and desk at the right height). You still could not terminate people at will, so getting rid of deadwood was (and still is) a nightmare.

    So, on top of this they layered “business process engineering”, where outside consultants from firms like Arthur Andersen (remember them?) came in and lectured the staff and management about how they did such a shitty job, and how they should use 4 x 4 management matrices to decide whether they were in the right business(!!?!). We always had performance standards, but they became much more detailed and burdensome. They did not add any value to what we did, or make the operation any easier or efficient. The result was layering a lot of business practices on top of the existing government requirements, making life a lot more difficult for no gain whatsoever.

    There was absolutely no recognition by the management consultants that we had a board of directors with 535 members that had a serious case of multiple personality disorder. Some wanted us to put the business we regulated out of business (seriously), while others wanted US to go out of business, and give the businesses we regulated free rein (correct usage).

    There was also no recognition that we had the legal right to actually put businesses out of business, or put their people in jail (with some help from the Department of Justice). I don’t think that any commercial businesses have that right, and authority. Symbolically, maybe, but not literally.

    Commercial businesses do not have the right to execute people, or make their lives a living hell, or qualified/limited/absolute immunity from suit. Government does.

    Government can use some business-like practices, such as accounting and data processing, but in the end, it is different from commercial operations, and cannot be run the way that Walmart or Starbuck or Trump Industries work. In the west, there are demands for transparency and fairness that are established by the legislature and enforced by the courts. It is very hard to make governments work like commercial businesses. And it is probably not a good idea to try very hard.

    1. SHG Post author

      Long but valuable. One consideration (and this is legit). A friend who held elected office was talking about pissing away money on a bill sought by someone whose vote he needed on something that mattered to my friend. My friend’s bill wasn’t economic. The other bill was, and disproportionately expensie and wasteful. After a while, I said, “You realize that’s my money you’re spending there, right?” “No, it’s tax money, not yours, and there’s always more where that came from.”

      Government is not business, and can’t be run like a business for a great many sound reasons. But then, a little business acumen isn’t a bad thing, including knowing where your revenues come from.

      1. B. McLeod

        Now it comes from the Magic Well of Borrowing (to continue the general theme of “magic” from last week). the Magic Well never goes dry, and we will let somebody in the future worry about what happens to taxes when/if it ever has to be paid back.

    2. Curtis

      It’s hard but there are some instances of business practices working in government. Mitch Daniels was a VP at Eli Lilly before becoming governor of Indiana and director of the OMB.

      He is currently the president of Purdue University which has not had a tuition hike in the seven years he has been president. I understand he had a strong combination of business and government experience and Purdue is not a country.

      P.S. Guess which university I am pushing my daughter to attend.

      1. losingtrader

        Wanna FaceTime? No?
        I’ll just call you.

        No need to answer.
        In fact, just hit the power or volume down buttons

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