Historically, after periods of great disappointment and a noticeable lack of leadership, Americans gravitate towards change. When a lawmaker-turned-president fails, like Barack Obama, Americans tend to lean towards an executive, like a governor.
It’s not a steadfast rule, but it’s fairly common. While Americans often turn to governors in these times, Americans are looking at other strong Washington outsiders for leadership.
The Republican candidate field is littered with leaders from outside the beltway. Donald Trump, the frontrunner, is a real estate tycoon. Dr. Ben Carson is a world-renowned surgeon. Carly Fiorina is a former Hewlett-Packard executive.
As the media scrutinizes the track records of these Washington outsiders, it seems clear that the fix is in; Trump is being targeted for his threats to the GOP establishment, Carson is left relatively untouched until he shows a greater standing and as Fiorina’s stock climbs, she is being eyed as a possible alternative to the brash Trump.
However, if you’re like me, you have some questions about her qualifications.
Don’t get me wrong; she’s saying all the right things. However, the same people who say, “We don’t know where Trump stands!” are often the same people saying “I like Fiorina,” despite not having a clear picture of where she stands and her background.
In a recent op-ed for Townhall, conservative pundit John Hawkins details some of the misgivings conservatives ought to have concerning Fiorina’s background.
Noting that Fiorina’s tenure at HP was rocky to say the least, Hawkins writes,
Fiorina’s story is that she stormed into HP, turned the company around and was unceremoniously fired because she challenged the status quo. In actuality, she insisted on a controversial merger with Compaq, got her way and it decimated the company. Fiorina loves to talk about HP’s increase in raw numbers, but if two large computer companies merge, it’s almost a given that the revenue and the number of patents produced by both companies combined are going to increase. What didn’t increase was HP’s stock price. It dropped from $55 a share when Fiorina took over to a little less than $20 a share under her leadership. There is a reason Fiorina shows up on lists of the Worst CEOs Of All Time (See here, here,here, and here among others) and it’s not because the whole business world is engaged in some kind of conspiracy to portray her as an incompetent.
These are fair points and still, the media seems infinitely more-focused on what Trump has said about her looks than scrutinizing her leadership abilities as a CEO.
When we compare this treatment to the treatment offered to Mitt Romney, we see a glaring hypocrisy.
Hawkins continues by highlighting that though Fiorina postures as a true grassroots conservative, she has, in the past, served as an establishment stooge.
Fiorina has run for office before. During the Tea Party tidal wave of 2010, there seemed to be an outside chance that Republicans might be able to knock off Barbra Boxer in California. Granted, it’s California, so it was always going to be a heavy lift, but after Scott Brown had won earlier in the year in Massachusetts, it didn’t seem impossible that a Republican could pull it off.
So, as we have often seen in these last few years, a conservative grassroots candidate squared off with a moderate candidate backed by the establishment. The grassroots conservative candidate was Chuck DeVore and the establishment candidate was Carly Fiorina. Almost every big name conservative except for Sarah Palin lined up behind DeVore (and I love Sarah, but if Fiorina had been a man, there’s not a chance in the world she would have gotten that endorsement. That’s why Sarah had to deal with a big backlash from her own fans over backing Fiorina). On the other hand, the NRSC, John McCain and Lindsey Graham were all supporting Fiorina. Interesting question: When have John McCain, Lindsey Graham and the NRSC EVER backed a conservative candidate over a moderate in a competitive race? Yes, that’s right; they don’t do that. Ever.
After beating DeVore by outspending him more than 3-to1, Fiorina went toe-to-toe with charisma-free Senator Barbara Boxer and got her brains beaten in. Surprise, surprise — Fiorina’s disastrous run at Hewlett Packard turned out to be an anchor around her neck and the fact that she was such a terrible politician that she signed off on bizarre garbage like the Demon Sheep ad (IT APPEARS at 2:26) certainly didn’t help. In a year when Republicans picked up 6 Senate seats, Boxer waltzed to a 10 point victory over Fiorina.
So, what’s so bad about Fiorina’s track record? In 2010, amidst the Tea Party surge, Redstate explained exactly that:
From her praise of Jesse Jackson, to her playing the race and gender cards against DeVore, to her support for the Wall Street bailouts, to her qualified support for the Obama stimulus, to her past support for taxation of sales on the Internet, to her waffling on immigration, to her support for Sonia Sotomayor, to her Master’s thesis advocating greater federal control of local education, to her past support for weakening California’s Proposition 13, to her statement to the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board that Roe v. Wade is “a decided issue,” Carly Fiorina’s oft-repeated claim to be a “lifelong conservative” was only plausible in the universe of NRSC staffers who recruited her in the first place.
…She endorsed Federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research for “extra” embyros.
She endorsed the California DREAM Act, which grants in-state tuition to illegal immigrants.
She refused to endorse California’s Proposition 23, which suspends the job-killing AB 32 climate-change law.
Fiorina has also backed the Gang of Eight amnesty legislation, supported cap & trade and has criticized Ted Cruz for having the courage to go to the mat on the Obamacare fight, even if that means shutting-down the government.
Fiorina is far from being the worst choice in the crowded GOP field (we’re looking at you, Jeb). However, she is far from being the conservative brawler she has marketed herself to be.
She is a failed CEO, a failed moderate congressional candidate and one hell of a debater. No more, no less.