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… and why is she running for President?

speculated  last week, before the GOP “debate,” that someone who hadn’t made the cut to the prime-time event might stand to gain by outshining the pygmies at the kids’ table in the warm-up act held in a near-empty arena.  I wondered if maybe that someone would be Carly Fiorina.  Apparently, some people who know about such things believe so.  The National Review said that “she stood out for her poise and her well-crafted answers, and emerged as the one person who looked like they should have been on the main stage.”  CNN gushed about Fiorina, “demonstrating a sharp knowledge of the issues as she stood shoulder to shoulder on a stage of former and current U.S. senators and governors.”

So, who is she?

Fiorina’s “qualifications” to be the Leader of the Free World are based upon her “accomplishments” in her business career, such as it is. Pulitzer Prize winning financial columnist Michael Hiltzik describes these as “impressive on paper, underwhelming in reality.”

She was CEO of Hewlett-Packard from mid-1999 to early 2005, a period in which the company’s stock sank 49% to 60% (depending on how you count), making it one of the worst-performing high-tech firms.  Hitzlick commented in the Los Angeles Times Business Section that “[s]he cut HP’s payroll by 10,000 employees in 2000 while surrounding her glamorous self with clouds of image and strategy consultants. She marketed overpriced knockoffs of other companies’ consumer technologies and then, disastrously, doubled down on the PC business by acquiring Compaq in 2002, when the right move would have been to exit that low-margin business altogether.”  In the end, the Compaq takeover led to a bruising battle with the HP board, which “she utterly mismanaged,” leading to her bitter ouster in 2005. “Her reaction was to blame everyone else, which doesn’t speak well of her capacity for introspection. She left with a severance package estimated at $40 million, which speaks very well of her negotiating skills (or her lawyers’).”

What are her politics?

Fiorina’s experience in politics is even more limited and  unsuccessful than her experience in the business world.  In 2010, incumbent Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer was seen as vulnerable and Fiorina won the G.O.P primary. Boxer both outspent Fiorina and out polled her 52%-42%.

In the course of the campaign, it was disclosed that Fiorina had not even voted in 75% of the elections in which she was eligible to cast a ballot. She missed presidential primaries in 2000 and 2004, and the primary and general elections in 2006, including a Senate reelection run by Democrat Dianne Feinstein. She skipped the primary and general elections in 2002, a gubernatorial election year, as well as the historic recall vote that brought Arnold Schwarzenegger to the governor’s seat.  Fiorina explained that  “I felt disconnected from the decisions made in Washington and, to be honest, really didn’t think my vote mattered because I didn’t have a direct line of sight from my vote to a result.”
however, at the same time, “[d]uring her reign at Hewlett-Packard, according to public records, her corporation spent $4.7 million to lobby Congress and donated more than $390,000 to political candidates through its political action committee. Fiorina and her husband, Frank, a former AT&T executive, have made more than $100,000 in political donations personally since 2000.”  Sounds pretty “connected” to me. While she thought her vote didn’t matter, apparently she felt differently about her money.

Why is she running?

No idea.  In the end, I find it hard to even come up with a rationale for Fiorina’s candidacy.  In the past, she showed no interest in participating in politics by so much as taking the time to vote. Why the sudden change of heart?  Bored with buying candidates and wanted to BE the bought candidate?  I don’t know but if the Republicans now permit Carly Fiorina to sit at the “big kids table,” I don’t see what she brings to that table.

– Karim

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