Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz seems to be the "Third Way Moderate of the Month" these days. He's everywhere, promoting his new book in all the Starbucks stores, showing up with op-eds calling for boycotts on campaign contributions to presidential candidates, and just generally inserting himself into politics more than I can recall in the past.
This week he pops up on This Week, with Christiane Amanpour, echoing the right wing memes with just a soft hint of moderation to make them go down like a venti mocha with extra chocolate. Check this piece of the discussion out, where he blames the ever-amorphous "Washington". As much as I'd like to believe he's trying to stick a hot poker in the backs of those companies sitting on their trillions without reinvesting in jobs or growth here in the states, it's just very difficult for me to believe.
SCHULTZ: Well, I think it's -- it's important to kind of frame the issue. As a result of the debt crisis and the debacle that took place between Congress and the president, we have a crisis of confidence in the U.S. and abroad. And that crisis of confidence is as a result of the lack of leadership coming out of Washington. Now, what I've also been saying, in addition to the fact that I've asked like-minded CEOs to suspend contributions, is that business and business leaders should not be waiting for Washington, and we need to reaffirm our faith in the economy and do everything we can to be a catalyst for change and try and do everything we can to invest back in America so we -- we can affect the jobs issue. But make no mistake: The issue at hand right now is the dysfunctionality in Washington and the lack of understanding that this is no longer a crisis. This is an emergency in America. And as a result of that, we need political courage and political will to solve our problems.
TAPPER: I'm sorry. I love your lattes, but I just think this is a copout. There are absolutely people in this town who are willing to compromise. Absolutely there are members of the Republican Party, of the Democratic Party who are willing to compromise. To say, "We're not going to give money to anybody, all 435 members of Congress, all 10 Republicans running for president, President Obama," is not doing the work of trying to figure out who actually is trying to solve these problems.
AMANPOUR: Mr. Schultz?
SCHULTZ: Yeah, let me -- let me -- let me give you some information: $4 billion was spent in 2008 in the presidential cycle, an estimated $5.5 billion in 2012. I would -- I would suspect that even you would think that we can use that money much better off, for our education system, to do anything possible to create jobs in America and not to continue to fund a broken system. But that's not the issue. The issue right now is not to point blame. The issue is, we -- we must address the issue of job creation in America.
Last week, as an example, I was in Europe. I had a private meeting with President Sarkozy. And in that meeting, he shared with me not only about the euro zone and the problems in Europe with regard to Greece, but the fact is that the connective tissue as it relates to the problems we're having in America and how that spilled off as a crisis of confidence in Europe. The issues that we have right now are not just singularly focused on America and Washington. And responsibility has to be for those who are in Washington who can make the decisions necessary to bring back confidence and hope back into the country.
I'm truly confused by this whole mushy frame. It's "Washington" that has created this crisis of confidence, and business has to step up and fix it? And really, is anyone else just a little creeped out that a CEO of an American company is having a private audience with Sarkozy to discuss the Eurozone problems, which are at a crisis point?
A memo to Howard Schultz: There are thousands marching in the streets, protesting corporate control over our politics, our economy, and their lives. Is this really the time to duck corporate responsibility and blame it all on
The combined actions of Schultz lately are those of someone considering a run at the Presidency: Publishing a book about his vision for this country and our economy, actively boycotting political donations to the amorphous "Washington", appearing on Sunday talking head shows, and meeting with foreign heads of state. A third-party candidate based on Third Way principles? As I see it, that could really create some serious problems for everyone, but most of all those people out there exercising their rights of assembly and free speech while speaking against the corporations and Wall Street, who would be Schultz' first constituents.