Watching a cable news interview with a major university president, we were struck by the fact he was talking not about he might do to reduce the cost of a college education and the attending debt burden, but what he actually had done. Expounding on his article that recently appeared in the Washington Post where he is a contributor, he outlined what in point of fact how is has reduced costs. At a time when college costs are rising at a rate far in excess of the general rate of inflation, since he became President in 2013 his university has seen no rise in tuition and other costs such as text books have been successfully attacked. Innovative ways for students to get a college education without incurring heavy debt have been introduced. Wow, somebody telling you what he’s actually done about a major problem rather than talking pie in sky.
In the fashion of cable news, after University President’s interview was over and he was gone, two commentators, one from the left and one from the right joined the host to discuss what was said. What impressed us was instead of the normal loud disagreement that seems to come with the job of cable news commentator, both were surprisingly positive about what they heard. One might think the commentator on the right might look in askance of an academic Washington Post Contributor, but on the other hand the one from the left might be unenthusiastic over a known Republican. Yet with some tangible ideas to think and talk about, both admiringly considered how these actions could be expanded upon. Real solutions seem to bring a certain consensus.
Who is this University President who elicits such a positive response? That would be Mitch Daniels, the President of Purdue University. It would not come as a surprise to those acquainted with him to be seen as a problem solver. A successful two term Indiana Governor, a top Fortune Five hundred company executive, Director of the Office of Management and Budget under George w. Bush, Think Tank Head and author all point to a man who solves problems.
Howard Schultz’s professed reason for a possible independent Presidential run is he fears our two major parties are refusing to confront let alone solve major problems that if not attacked threaten the very stability of the nation. The problem with his candidacy as we see it is that it seems more of a vanity run than a real engagement with our myriad of problems. With no government experience, even the building of a coffee shop empire gives little indication he has or knows how to get the right solutions and implement them. So how then does he gain gravitas? How does he show he really is in it to primarily to solve problems? Consider taking a literal backseat and propose a ticket of Mitch Daniels for president and himself as the VP., joining a lifelong Republican with a lifelong Democrat. Assuming Mitch’s acquiescence, this would be a dynamic assertion of purpose. Straightening out our financial problems will need a keen knowledge of government and budgets. A man who earned the nickname of “the blade” when he ran the office Management and Budget sounds like somebody that fills the bill.
Could this ticket actually win? People forget Mitch Daniels was thought to be a major challenger for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination until he took himself out due to family considerations. He handily won the Indiana governorship and was re-elected by an even greater margin. Better still. Indiana is situated right in the middle of the old rust belt where our elections have lately been decided. Indiana has been a model of how to go forward in a changed world. A contrast with its next door neighbor Illinois clearly shows the worth of effective policies rather than failed ones. While not a man of great physical stature (5’7″) his gentlemanly manner and clear presentation of ideas would be in marked contrast to the present president and possibly the Democratic contender as well. One thing for sure it would make it a race more about ideas and policies rather than personalities. Isn’t that just what Schultz wants? More important, it just might be what the electorate wants in 2020. A three-way race just might favor someone who appears experienced and serious.
Can this work? Daniels would have really want to make the run. Highly involved at his University with among other things with Purdue Global the rapidly growing online extension of Purdue begun in 2018 the timing might not be right. However at 70 it’s now or never. Daniel’s family situation where he lost and then re-won his wife may have been seen as a detriment in the past, but just might play well now especially among suburban women, another main battleground. As always a candidate’s family has to be onboard, but we can hope they would put the nation’s needs first. Also it would probably work better if Schultz and Daniels get along.
Would Howard Schultz take the bottom spot on the ticket when it would be his money underwriting the enterprise? If he really wants to tackle the nation’s problems he would. Success in that endeavor would give him a clear path to succeed Daniels. At 71 on inauguration day, two terms may not be in the cards. Would the voters accept him even as VP? We thinks so. Willingness to learn the top job up close as VP would be a plus and people would understand his wanting to stay close to see if his investment is getting results. In any case, this is the only way we see Howard Schultz in the oval office. The choice is between an expensive meaningless vanity run and the chance to be a truly historic figure.