business news in context, analysis with attitude

Content Guy’s Note: Stories in this section are, in my estimation, important and relevant to business. However, they are relegated to this slot because some MNB readers have made clear that they prefer a politics-free MNB; I can't do that because sometimes the news calls out for coverage and commentary, but at least I can make it easy for folks to skip it if they so desire.

• The Washington Post this morning has a story about the negative reaction in some quarters to the announcement by former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz that he is considering an independent run for the presidency, and how it might impact the company he used to run.

“It’s hard to know because it’s virtually unprecedented,” the Post writes. “Hired chief executives of big brands (former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina) have run for president. Business owners (Ross Perot, Donald Trump) have run or even won. But the harsh scrutiny and divisive rhetoric that a presidential campaign could unload on a publicly traded global consumer brand is uncharted territory, and may find its first test in the candidacy of Howard Schultz.”

The Post writes that “experts on brand reputation were divided on how much risk Starbucks actually faces. Schultz’s leadership of the company is almost certain to come under greater scrutiny, questions about his motivation for running could get intermingled with Starbucks' image, and its outsize reputation as a progressive employer could suffer bruises if stories were to emerge from disgruntled employees who get a bigger platform to air any grievances.”

The negative reaction to a Schultz candidacy - which would have a centrist-progressive tilt - mostly came from the left, where Democrats clearly feel that it could siphon off votes from their own eventual candidate, ensuring the re-election of President Trump. In addition, the idea has been characterized on social media as a “vanity project” and “rich man’s fantasy,” and some have advanced the idea of a boycott of Starbucks if Schultz moves forward with his candidacy.

Starbucks has gone out of its way to distance itself from a Schultz candidacy, saying it dos not get involved in electoral politics.
KC's View:
First of all, regarding Starbucks trying to divorce itself from Schultz’s presidential ambitions … good luck with that. Starbucks, like it or not, is an enormous part of the Schultz story, and they’d better be prepared to get involved. For better or worse. Like it or not. (There could be protests - from both sides of the political spectrum - at every Starbucks in America. Better be prepared to deal with it.)

Second, I think Democrats should shut up about how the vote totals will add up on November 3, 2020 … and beat him in the court of public opinion, with an aggressive exchange of policy ideas. (I don’t know about you, but that’s what I’m looking for in the next election cycle … I want everybody - on both sides of the aisle - to be specific about their policy ideas and specific about how they’ll lead.)