I know that the suspense has been unbearable, but I'm finally ready to make my announcement: I am not running for president.
I realize that by doing so, I have aligned myself with 328,113,170 or so other Americans who also have decided not to run for president. We have much in common, including our shared contempt for nearly all of those, on all sides, who practice the dark arts of politics, most of whom are running for president.
In case you were wondering why I found it necessary to announce that I'm forgoing an election campaign, it's because of Eric Garcetti. Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti held a news conference to declare he also would not be a candidate. Was it necessary to publicly proclaim that?
Perhaps it's because every other Democratic politician, in office or not, is "considering" a run. You know, they're at least "mulling it over with family members," to say nothing of the several who have already taken the dive. When it comes time to stage Democrat primary debates, the news network unit managers will have to scout the nation's stadiums for venues to hold all the players.
And then there's Howard Schultz, the self-declared "independent" candidate. Actually Schultz says he is only contemplating a run. He's already had his glory moment on "60 Minutes." Not bad for a guy who hasn't even got beyond the ponder patter, which is meant to leave us in breathless anticipation I suppose. Now I, too, am independent. I'm registered as a voter that way for journalistic reasons. Besides, I really hate most everybody I cover. But I am not a "independent maybe-candidate," which translates to "massively rich guy on the ultimate ego trip."
Schultz accumulated his billions of dollars as the CEO of Starbucks, but I promise you, no coffee jokes. Perhaps because he's bored and worried about being a has-bean (well, just one) and taking inspiration from Donald Trump -- who also had more money than experience -- Schultz has decided he could spare a little loose change to finance a presidential campaign. Hey, it worked for Trump, didn't it? (With a little help from his Russian friends)/ Already, Schultz has made noise by trashing those on the left for their "ridiculous" platforms that would increase taxes for the wealthy. Did I mention that he is a billionaire?
Democrats are going bonkers. How could Howard Schultz, who is fashioning himself as a centrist, put himself in a position where he siphons enough votes from the Dems to throw the election to Donald Trump? It's happened before. Ross Perot helped do in Bush the First. Ralph Nader boosted Bush the Second. This time, Schultz could sabotage chances of toppling the Trumpster.
Trump's perceived vulnerability, after all, is why so many Democrats are taking the plunge. It's becoming so commonplace that the D's really need to come up with unique attention-grabbing ways of making their announcement. Not that they've asked, but I have a great idea: Why not stand off to the side at some public event holding up a yellow legal pad on which the words "I'm Running for President" will be scrawled in black marker?
Right now, you're asking yourself, "What in heaven's name is he talking about?" What I'm talking about is John Bolton, Trump's national security adviser, who just happened to allow cameras to shoot his notebook with the words "5,000 troops to Colombia" there for all to see. Could it be that the Trump administration is involved in a bluffing game with the Venezuelan government? If you think that the display of that Bolton scribble was an accident, I have some land in Caracas to sell you. Whether this is a showdown for real, or a way for President Trump to distract from his humiliating government shutdown and/or the Mueller investigation that's closing in, you be the judge.
Scores of Democratic politicians see an opportunity here in a nation looking for a Trump alternative. It's not only the party's hacks, but those "oysiders" who believe making a fortunes in business translates to success at the highest levels of government, which means we have learned absolutely nothing from the Trump presidency.
Bob Franken is a former CNN anchor. He can be reached on Twitter, @frankenb.