Carly Fiorina (who?) for president (huh?)

     Carly Fiorina, former Chief Executive Officer of Hewlett-Packard speaks to the Restore America rally in Louisville, Ky., Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014. (Timothy D. Easley/AP Photo)

    Carly Fiorina, former Chief Executive Officer of Hewlett-Packard speaks to the Restore America rally in Louisville, Ky., Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014. (Timothy D. Easley/AP Photo)

    On the cusp of the ’16 presidential cycle, we’re already entering the season of delusion, when random people get it into their addled heads that they belong in the Oval Office.

    Donald Trump, whose fan club consists of Donald Trump, says, “I’m gonna look at it.” Meanwhile, the unelectable Mike Huckabee is gearing up again, in advance of his January book God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy, and his daughter says, “He can’t wait to get back to South Carolina and Iowa.” Elsewhere, fringe righty Ben Carson says “the likelihood is strong” that he’ll seek the GOP nomination, buttressed by a documentary about himself and a website,, that’s trying to “draft” him.

    Inded, the “draft” tactic is crucial during the season of delusion. The aim is to create the (fake) impression that the American people are jonesing so much for this person to run, that the object of affection has no choice but to answer the summons of the trumpet.

    Which brings us to Carly Fiorina.

    • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

    All of a sudden, she seems to be buzzworthy (she’s manufacturing the buzz). You may not know who she is – former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, unsuccessful Senate candidate in California – but she is nonetheless convinced (or claims to be convinced) that John Q. Public is begging for a GOP presidential bid. The idea, apparently, is that since the Democrats are likely to nominate Hillary, then perhaps the Republicans should get themselves a female, too.

    So there was Fiorina the other day on Meet the Press, insisting that of course she needs to seriously weigh a bid, if only because there is so much demand that she do so. She said: “When people keep asking you over and over and over again, you have to pause and reflect. So I’ll pause and reflect at the right time.” (The people asking her “over and over and over” are probably her staffers. I question whether the average dude these days is sipping his morning coffee and saying to his wife, “You know what, honey? I sure wish Carly Fiorina would run for president.”)

    And there she was last week in Time magazine, the star of a trial balloon article: “(Fiorina) is actively involved recruiting staff…and she has agreed to appear at two candidate forums, one in Iowa in January and second in New Hampshire and April.” A GOP strategist, quoted anonymously, suggests that she’d be an awesome opponent for Hillary: “The most effective way to criticize a woman is to have another woman do it.”

    And there she was last week, trial-ballooning on the Bloomberg Politics website: “(Fiorina) traveled extensively during the recent campaign season, stumping for Republicans and banking favors for a potential 2016 bid,” complete with “a slickly produced video showcasing Fiorina’s speeches, TV appearances and conservative views.” (An article this summer also detailed her spadework.)

    And there she was yesterday, trial-ballooning in The Washington Post: “She is sort of a Hillaryesque anti-Hillary…On the (GOP) debate stage, Fiorina would likely be the only woman, and in that way she could be viable standard-bearer for those concerned about the perceptions of the GOP as the party of men.” Plus, she’s rich enough to self-fund a race. Plus, she’s a little bit of a celebrity because she pops up on CNBC.

    What the heck, I say go for it! The grassroots groundswell is solely in her mind (an unnamed GOP strategist emailed The Post to say, “Carly has a fan club of one”), but as a business world emissary she couldn’t be any worse than Herman Cain, who had women problems and didn’t know squat. Plus, she has the potential to be highly entertaining, like when she surfaced on CNN this past summer to denounce the Democrats by waving a fortune cookie:

    “I went to a Chinese restaurant with my husband the other day and I got this fortune cookie. I opened my fortune cookie and here’s what my cookie said. ‘Strong and bitter words indicate a weak cause.’ And that’s exactly right. The ‘war on women’ (rhetoric) is shameless, baseless propaganda, there’s no fact to it.”

    There’s no fact to it….I’ll go out on a limb here and suggest that Hillary would be able to handle her.

    But here is Fiorina’s real problem: She was fired as chairman and CEO of Hewlett-Packard, after making deals that devalued the firm (stock shares dropped 50 percent in five years) and sparked massive layoffs. Then she got a golden parachute worth $40 million. The stockholders were so furious that they sued (albeit in vain).

    So I’ll go out on a limb again and suggest that the stupidest thing the GOP could possibly do, after crashing in ’12 with Mitt Romney, is to nominate another rich corporate elitist. Although it truly would be fun to watch Fiorina attempt to establish a sisterly bond with working women.

    Actually, there’s no need to get ahead of ourselves. For now it’s sufficient to dream of a GOP stage packed with unelectable delusionists – Fiorina, Huckabee, Carson, Cruz, Paul, Perry…It’s no wonder the GOP’s leaders are cutting the number of debates, thus limiting candidates’ exposure to scrutiny. I just hope Fiorina quotes another cookie.



    Follow me on Twitter, @dickpolman1, and on Facebook.


    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal