Fiorina and the Facts

Jack Kerwick
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Posted: Sep 23, 2015 9:47 AM
Fiorina and the Facts

By a substantial margin, Donald Trump remains the GOP’s presidential frontrunner.

Still, because Carly Fiorina improved her standing in two recent polls, the usual suspects among the self-appointed guardians of GOP orthodoxy are busy building her up in their quest to topple Trump at all costs.

Yet lest those voters aching for a conservative nominee act too rashly, they should take note of one brute, but unpleasant, fact:

Carly Fiorina is not any sort of conservative.

She is, however, a natural when it comes to the art of political theater.

Few commentators have observed the ease with which Fiorina oscillates between affirming and eschewing gender-identity politics.

On the one hand, she styles herself the anti-Hillary candidate, a conservative who, radically unlike the Democratic presidential frontrunner, steadfastly refuses to capitalize on her circumstance of being a woman for political gain. Fiorina is a candidate who happens to be a woman.

On the other hand, Fiorina spares no occasion to exploit her gender for her own political aggrandizement. Whether she is replying to Trump’s remarks about her “face” or Megyn Kelly’s “bleeding,” Fiorina insists upon styling herself either a victim of misogyny or a heroic opponent of it.

And it isn’t just Trump whose “sexism” Fiorina targets. She has complained that female political candidates are judged by a double standard regarding their physical appearance.

Let us, though, acquaint ourselves with some facts concerning Fiorina that her apologists in the media aren’t likely to share.

First, although Fiorina now defies Hillary Clinton to identify a single accomplishment for which she can take credit, she lavished unadulterated praise upon Clinton just seven years ago when the latter ran for the presidency.

Senator Clinton, Fiorina said, was “incredibly intelligent” and “determined.” “I have such great admiration and empathy for Hillary Clinton,” Fiorina remarked. Hillary is “empathetic of all the tens of millions of people that she was trying to represent in her quest to become the first woman president of the United States.”

Fiorina said that, “as a woman,” she took “great pride in the fact that Hillary Clinton ran for president,” and she “watched with a lot of empathy as I saw how she was scrutinized, characterized, talked about as a woman.”

Hillary, in Fiorina’s judgment, got an unfair shake because of her gender.

Fiorina also claimed that Hillary’s “run for the presidency was historic. She was a great candidate.” Hillary “has helped millions of women all over this country.”

For this reason, Fiorina concluded that “women of any political party owe a debt of gratitude to Hillary Clinton [.]”

Wow. It certainly sounds like Fiorina thinks, or at least once thought, that Clinton is accomplished.

Secondly, Fiorina made these remarks while she was working closely on the campaign trail with, of all people, that rock-ribbed “conservative,” John McCain!

Thirdly, though some of Trump’s critics blast him for being “pro-choice” (Trump had been “pro-choice,” but at least claims to have changed his mind), Fiorina has never been a champion of the unborn. Moreover, she even supported embryonic stem cell research. Such was the staunchness of her support that in 2010 the Christian Coalition voter guide, designed as it is to “educate tens of millions of citizens across this nation as to where candidates for office stand on key faith and family issues,” assigned Fiorina the grade of “2-,” which meant that she “strongly” opposed prohibiting this research.

Fourthly, while debating Barbara Boxer five years ago, Fiorina indicated her belief in “global warming,” i.e. anthropogenic “global warming.” “We should always have the courage to examine the science,” Fiorina said when asked whether she believed that “global warming” was real. She followed this up by adding that “all scientists agree” that “the only way to impact global warming is to act globally.”

When Fiorina was asked about her stance via “Proposition 23,” a ballot measure that would’ve suspended California’s law on “global warming” until unemployment dropped to 5.5% or lower for four consecutive quarters, she refused to take one.

Fifthly, Fiorina reads the 14th Amendment as granting American citizenship to the children born in America to illegals. And she has been an enthusiastic supporter of the DREAM Act, i.e. in allowing illegal immigrant adolescents and adults to remain in the country as long as they entered either college or the military.

Finally, for as outraged as Fiorina now acts over the alleged double standard that she perceives vis-à-vis men and women in politics, Fiorina, as Jeffrey Sonnenfeld writes, “has been known to be a queen of personal invective [.]”

Sonnenfeld is the associate dean of Leadership Studies at the Yale School of Management. He is also the academic whose scathing paper on Carly Fiorina’s tenure at Hewlett-Packard Trump referred to during last week’s CNN/GOP debate.

While Fiorina attempted to dismiss him as a “Clintonite,” Sonnenfeld has actually been an associate of politicians from across the political aisle. He calls Fiorina’s charge “absurd” and adds that “no amount of one-liners to Trump, weekend study of Middle Eastern names or ad hominem attacks on a university professor” can change the fact that, in Sonnenfeld’s considered judgment, Fiorina “was one of the worst technology CEOs in history.”

Sonnenfeld is blunt: “In the five years that Fiorina was at Hewlett-Packard, the company lost over half its value” (55 percent!).

The “only” time that HP’s stock increased is when it increased by 7 percent. But this occurred “the moment [Fiorina] was fired following a unanimous board vote.”

Yet not only did profits and value tank during Fiorina’s tenure at HP, many of its employees—some 30,000—were sent to join the ranks of the unemployed.

Sonnenfeld observes that for these feats, Fiorina was rewarded with $100 million.

Fiorina was never responsive to critical feedback, regularly treating those who would challenge her—including and especially “platoons of her own top lieutenants and even her board of directors”—the way she treated Sonnenfeld and Trump at the debate.

Fiorina could be nasty. While at HP, she “ridiculed the music interests and appearance of a dissenting board member Walter Hewitt, son of HP’s co-founder.” This Trumpian tactic of ridiculing her opponents’ looks Fiorina seemed to have been practicing long before Trump mastered it in the political arena, for after she was fired by HP and engaged in a Senate contest with Barbara Boxer, Fiorina was caught on an open mic making fun of the appearance of the latter.

For anyone who is tempted to buy Fiorina’s dismissal of him as a Clinton attack dog, Sonnenfeld informs readers that “these facts” to which he alludes “have been documented, both with quotes from her own board members and leadership team and with raw numbers in such revered publications as Forbes, Fortune, Business Week, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and leading tech industry journals.”

Sonnenfeld provides links to all sources.

There is much more that can be said about Carly Fiorina. But here’s to hoping that what has already been said is enough to prove that Fiorina is neither a conservative nor a good presidential candidate.