Someone should do a psychological study of the deluded souls who think they belong in the Oval Office.
This week alone, we have three new patients who belong on a shrink’s couch. Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee would be fitting subjects, but the best, by far, would be Carly Fiorina – if only because she most vividly combines chutzpah with unmitigated gall.
She apparently thinks that since Hillary Clinton is likely to be the Democratic nominee, the Republicans might want to get themselves a woman too. But her big problem was manifestly evident yesterday, when she formally launched her candidacy with an online chat. People promptly demanded that she explain her wretched record as the chairman and CEO of Hewlett-Packard.
If you’re not familiar with that record, here’s a quick fill: Fiorina was fired in 2005 after making deals that wreaked havoc in the firm; during her six-year tenure, HP stock lost half its value. The board of directors kicked her out, and gave her a golden parachute worth more than $20 million. Stockholders were so furious that they sued (albeit in vain). CNBC lists her as one of the “Worst American CEOs of All Time.”
So naturally she was asked yesterday to explain why 30,000 Hewlett-Packard workers were laid off during her tenure, and why the stock value was slashed in half. You and I probably believe that those factoids alone would doom a presidential candidacy (she also got big bonuses, and flew around in corporate jets promoting her self-brand, while H-P was imploding), but Fiorina simply replied, “I managed H-P through a very difficult time,” and she said recently that “I’ll stand on my record.”
If Fiorina somehow manages to gain traction in the Republican race, the attack ads would write themselves. Rivals can simply quote Jason Burnett, a grandson of H-P co-founder David Packard and a member of the Packard Foundation board of trustees, who tells the Guardian newspaper: “She put herself ahead of the interests of the company and I fear she would do the same as president. I don’t want her to do harm to this country.”
Or her rivals can quote Roy Verley, H-P’s former director of corporate communications, who says of his ex-boss, “She didn’t know what she was doing.” Or her rivals can quote Jean-Louis Gassee, a former H-P executive and longtime H-P investor, who surfaces today in The Wall Street Journal with this gem: “It’s an offensive joke that someone with such a poor record running a company wants to be president.” He says that Fiorina has “no self-awareness.”
True that. Fiorina’s campaign flak says it’s unfair to list her as one of America’s worst CEOs – “Those lists are based on no metrics, are completely the opinion of whomever is compiling the list, and are nothing other than gossip ” – which is puzzling spin, because 30,000 layoffs and devalued stock surely qualify as “metrics.” But Fiorina’s only metric is her self-regard, which has blinded her to political reality: The dumbest thing the GOP could do, after crashing in ’12 with Mitt Romney, is to nominate another corporate elitist – this one, with a golden parachute.
Her biggest asset at the moment, according to the newly released Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll, is that 52 percent of likely Republican primary voters don’t know who she is. Oh man. Wait’ll they find out.
Time for a trivia contest. Fiorina has never held elected or appointed political office. Name the presidents who fit that description. Hint: There have only been three.
Something else the WSJ-NBC pollsters discovered: Hillary Clinton currently leads her top Republican rivals among white women by as much as 10 percentage points.
Your first reaction is probably, “So what? Wouldn’t we expect Hillary to be leading among white women?” But this is actually a significant finding – because Democratic presidential candidates typically underperform with white women. When President Obama won re-election in 2012, he lost white women by 14 points, 56 to 42.
Bill McInturff, the Republican pollster who co-directed the new WSJ-NBC survey, says the GOP can’t recapture the White House in ’16 unless it wins the majority of white women. Which guy can wrest that demographic from Hillary?
Carly Fiorina to the rescue!