The art of running for president when you say you’re not

The Mark Zuckerberg “I’m not running for president (although I am)” tour rolled into Minneapolis last night, according to the Facebook founder’s Facebook page.

Most people who are running for president usually declare at this time of the campaign cycle that they’re not. And we dutifully report that they say they’re not, forcing you to choose between what they say and your lying eyes.

(Cough) Amy Klobuchar. Mark Zuckerberg. Tim Pawlenty.

It’s one of the reasons we’re big fans of the NPR Politics podcast crew, which is more willing to declare certain “truths” on a podcast than on the more buttoned-down radio side.

“It is really remarkable that we’re talking about this many women are being seriously considered as viable candidates for a major party nomination. It is not just one super-well-known woman who people kind of see as inevitable.This is a whole bunch of newcomer women. This is a big deal and we shouldn’t forget that,” NPR political reporter Danielle Kurtzleben noted on one of this week’s podcast, after mentioning Klobuchar first among the women she sees as presidential candidates.

As for Zuckerberg, host Domenico Montanaro, NPR’s political editor, took special note of his visits and Facebook posts. “(He’s) posting these very politician-sounding posts like, ‘just had a very great visit with a family in Ohio.'”

“Who’s not running for president if you’re feeding baby cows?” he asked.

(h/t: Paul Tosto)

  • Jerry

    President Zuckerberg? Nooooope.

    • MrE85

      All Hail PZ, Leader of the Free World.

  • Rob

    I am an Amy K fan. But if she runs as a corporate Democrat she’s gonna go down in flames.

    • Mike

      What else could she run as? That’s all she’s ever been.

      • Rob

        I’m hopeful she’ll step up and adopt a more Bernie-esque perspective.

        • Mike

          I’d say we just need better or different candidates. Klobuchar is completely beholden to corporate interests.

          Bernie has always been Bernie, even when it was horribly unfashionable to be Bernie. The leopard doesn’t change his/her spots.

          • Rob

            I would be totally in favor of Elizabeth Warren running for Prez

          • Gary F

            I’d be worried about being sabotaged by the DNC, your own party. Look how they screwed Bernie.

          • The DNC wasn’t Bernie’s party.

          • Mike

            He ran as a Democrat, and they totally screwed him. We learned that definitively due to John Podesta, who was too dumb not to click on a phishing email.

          • He could run as anything he wishes but the truth is he only caucused with Democrats rather than join the party. What is this loyalty that the party seems to have owed him?

          • Mike

            For one thing, they lied. They claimed neutrality, but in reality they were sabotaging him behind the scenes.

            Given how far right today’s Democratic Party is, Bernie is more of a Democrat if you consider FDR to be the gold standard.


          • // . They claimed neutrality, but in reality they were sabotaging him behind the scenes.

            Probably because they thought he was using the party.

            Which, of course, he was.

            Politicians and insiders have long memories. That’s pretty much all party politics is; settling scores.

          • Mike

            There’s no reason why at the outset the DNC couldn’t have just said that they didn’t welcome his run as a Democrat, given his long history as an independent. Instead, they lied and pretended neutrality – probably because they liked the energy and the youth vote that he brought with him – while doing everything they could to engineer a Clinton nomination.

            As always, it’s best not to get caught when lying. The DNC is so inept that they couldn’t even manage that.

          • Like I said… settling scores and personal grudges is pretty much the fuel that runs party politics.

            I’m sure Bernie was shocked to discover this . After almost 50 years in the business.

          • RBHolb

            As Will Rogers said, “I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.”

          • Mike

            I’m sure Bernie wasn’t shocked, and neither were many of us in the general voting public. But it certainly reinforces the cynicism that keeps many people from voting at all and is increasingly driving people away from the two main parties.

          • If Bernie getting the cold shoulder from a party he wasn’t a member of is what drove people away from the Democratic party, I guess they’ve never seen a DFL Central Committee meeting.

            It’s a hazard of having a party of people who are different with different agendas.

          • Mike

            If expecting a modicum of honesty and fair dealing among a group of people running the party (ostensibly on behalf of the people it wants to vote for it) is too much, then plenty of people who might otherwise support that party will say, “no, thanks.” Which is exactly what happened last year.

          • It’s not a party for sissies. At least it didn’t used to be. If you’re going to play party politics in the Democratic party, you better bring an A game because otherwise you’ll get bloodied.

            Most of the “outrage” about Bernie and the DNC came from Bernians, who aren’t really Democrats either. And, of course, Republicans, who have the luxury of a “if you’ve met one, you’ve met them all” party.

            the party leadership of the DNC has always gone to whatever faction won the last election. Anyone who expected some sort of neutral leadership probably shouldn’t be president because that’s an absurd expectations in Democratic politics.

          • Mike

            Good to know that a basic expectation of integrity (i.e., not blatantly lying) is being a “sissy”.

            As for the purity test of who is or isn’t a Democrat, I would submit that such an obsession isn’t doing the party much good. Democratic turnout was way down last year. Maybe they should focus on bringing people in instead of focusing on who’s pure enough to run or participate. Elections, after all, are a numbers game.

          • Like I said, you’d be foolish to be in the Democratic Party and expect you’ve joined the boy Scouts. It doesn’t work that way; it’s never worked that way.

            It’s Chicago politics.

            The outrage is mostly manufactured. The people who played the game last year knew exactly how the game was played.

            There should be a D league for anyone who expects otherwise.

          • Mike

            The party lost miserably. I thought winning was the goal, but I’m rethinking that assumption. The enrichment of special interests appears to be the game.

          • Politics is about power. If winning an election provides that power, yeah, it’s about winning.

            But it’s about power first.

            Also, there’s gambling going on in Rick’s American Cafe .

          • Mike

            Given that they don’t have much power anywhere these days, I hope they cashed out at Rick’s while they were ahead.

          • Politics if a funny game. A lot of obituaries of political parties have been ripped up and thrown in the wastebasket over the years. The only thing that is eternal — besides baseball — is hubris and arrogance of those in power, which is primarily what leads to someone else.. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

          • MikeB

            It’s like wanting union benefits without joining the union

  • MrE85

    I saw this same post and never for an instant thought of politics, presidential or otherwise. Eye of the beholder, I guess.

  • crystals

    Ugh. He would be an awful candidate. (And way to dress up for a dinner at which you are being welcomed into another community, dude.)

    In semi-related news, there was an interesting story in Politico this week about Heidi Heitkamp and her refusal to admit she’s running for re-election as the sole statewide Democrat in North Dakota. It’s a good read for the politically interested among us. I’m interested in this dynamic of not saying you’re a candidate when you’re actually a candidate.

  • Zachary

    I’m not running either.
    ‘Course that hasn’t stopped me from writing myself in on occasion… 😉

  • Gary F

    Does he eat the local food when he comes to town or only what he kills? Does someone have to take him hunting when he comes to town?

    • Rob

      Zuck’s slaughter postings are just one more reason I don’t miss Facebook. If Zuck does come to town, he’ll probably try to grab up one of the goats that St. Paul deployed for weed control.

      • Gary F


  • The Winklevoss twins thought about running for president first, Zuck just stole the idea.

  • Dan

    I don’t think Zuck is running, but would be a good president. His leadership skills are underestimated.

    • RBHolb

      Being the charismatic leader of a disruptive technology start-up requires a different skill set from the presidency.

      There are any number of rubes out there who would have told you that being a shifty real estate developer was the ideal man for the White House.

      • Dan

        I don’t find Zuckerberg to be charismatic. In fact I’ve until recently seen him as just a kid who got lucky and speaks in meaningless generalizations. But when I stopped and evaluated what he’s done as CEO, I see someone who has made some great strategic decisions and very few bad ones, hired outstanding people in leadership positions, and empowered them do their jobs. That skill set would translate well to the Presidency.

        Trump on the other hand is an autocratic bully who hires based on nepotism and flattery, is all tactics and no strategy, and overrules or undermines underlings based on whims. That has translated about as well as most people would have thought.

        • RBHolb

          He has the charisma of a great salesman. After he leaves, you aren’t quite sure why you wanted him to have all your money (or, in the case of Facebook, your privacy), but you must have because he has it.

          Leadership takes different forms, and the skills are not transferable to different fields. Ulysses Grant was a great military leader, but a rotten President. A business leader is working towards one goal, and is given near dictatorial authority to accomplish that goal. If he owns the bulk of his company, as Mr. Zuckerberg does, the nominal check on that authority from shareholders is absent.

          Garry Wills wrote an excellent book on this subject a few years back (“Certain Trumpets”). It was a nice corrective to the tired refrain from the 80s about how Lee Iacocca should be President because he turned Chrysler around.

          • Dan

            The refrain that government should be run like a business is tired indeed, but I wouldn’t over generalize in the other direction.

            I know zero people who started or continue to use Facebook because of anything to do with Mark Zuckerberg’s persona.

  • lindblomeagles

    Oh great. That’s just what we need. Another filthy rich businessman running for POTUS. Don’t we already have somebody like that in the White House now????

  • KTFoley

    Specific to Zuckerberg, I am intrigued by this line of thought:

    (Jason Kottke’s writeup in the first link contains the verbiage from the first six of Nathan Hubbard’s eleven tweets in the second link.)