THE BLOG

Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman: Running on Empty

05/09/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

First, there was the ridicule at Carly Fiorina's infamously creepy "wolf in sheep's clothing" ad attacking the credentials of her opponent in the GOP primary for the U.S. Senate from California.

Now, Meg Whitman is running silly carnival-like ads attacking the credentials of her opponent in the Republican primary for California governor.

These ads are running relentlessly in the state. (It happens when a billionaire candidate has money to burn.) Blasts at the voting records of their opponents. Blasts at how these lifelong, elected Republicans are supposedly not really Republicans. "Cutesy" blasts. Blasting their voting records over and over and over.

I watch these ads and always have one immediate thought: Geez, at least these guys they're running against have voting records.

By the way, I don't just mean in elected office. I include as "voting records" that they simply voted on election day.

Honestly, if you want to making someone's voting record a major campaign issue, fine, but have the decency to vote yourself.

In October, Meg Whitman appeared on FOX Business Channel, and spoke with Neil Cavuto. "I've been very straight up that my voting record isn't perfect,'' she said. "I did not consistently vote,'' adding, "Like many Americans, I've missed too many elections.''

This is the razzle dazzle of a master, trying to bamboozle the public. "I've been truthful telling you how irresponsible I've been." It's almost Zen-like. Better though, is the effort to make misbehavior sound patriotic, "Like many Americans..." Huzzah! O Huzzah! "Like many Americans" can apply to almost anything -- "Like many Americans, I speed in school zones." Of course, those many Americans who missed elections generally did so intentionally and because they hate politics. And they didn't turn hypocritical by running for governor of California.

She's simply like many Americans. One of the people. Just like you. If you were a non-voting billionaire.

In fact, this aw-shucks "Like many Americans" gambit is a crafted and repetitive phrase, used to obscure transgressions. Appearing in Davis, California, last September, Ms. Whitman also said, "I, like many Americans, was not as engaged as I should have been over the last 20 or 30 years."

So, there you again have...wait, hold on. For 20 or 30 years??!! That's longer than "many Americans" who vote have even been alive. Rip Van Winkle was only asleep for 20.

But it gets worse, because she continued, "I was focused on raising a family, on my husband's career; we moved many, many times, and it is no excuse," offering it clearly as an excuse. Just like her spokesman, Henry Gomez, later commented, "I know it's no excuse, but for years she was heads-down in her business and her family" -- offering that as an excuse, too.

C'mon, if you say you don't have an excuse, don't then try to give one.

And none of this even takes into consideration how insulting her non-excuse excuse is to women who were also raising a family, also focused on their husband's career, also moved -- and actually figured out how to vote.

As for Carly Fiorina, her own shoddy voting record only escaped notice because Meg Whitman's is worse. According to the San Jose Mercury News, "Records from the Santa Clara County Registrar's Office show she [Ms. Fiorina] voted in just six of 14 elections since 2000, skipping the presidential primaries of 2000 and 2004 and sitting out all gubernatorial elections, including the 2003 recall election."

Clearly Ms. Fiorina doesn't care about the public election process. Except for that whole, "but I want to be U.S. Senator" part.

If Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina both really want to get involved in the election process, just voting would be a refreshing start.

More refreshing than attacking your lifelong-Republican opponents for not being Real Republicans, when you don't have a record of even voting Republican much. Honestly, there's far more of a burden of proof on you.

There's a certain "You little people owe this to me" attitude here. Further, being a billionaire success in business, while notable, has nothing to do with an ability to be a governor or senator. In business, the boss orders others what to do. Or else. You fire them. Politics doesn't work that way. There's that whole pesky "other party" and "general public" thing.

Neither candidate has explained much, other than the platitudes you'd get from someone running for junior high student council. "I'm for education. I'm for a strong economy." Me, too. I'm also for more gym class.

Ms. Fiorina points at her main credential to be a U.S. senator that she ran Hewlett-Packard. It's an impressive position -- but it qualifies her to run Radio Shack. Okay, maybe not, because you see Hewlett-Packard fired Carly Fiorina, after she disastrously bought Compaq and H-P stagnated. The day she was let go, how did Wall Street react? Hewlett-Packard stock soared 6.9 percent. Not 6.9 points -- the whole company rose 6.9 percent! And this is her main credential, that she's so great at business.

And to be governor, Ms. Whitman points at her main credential that she ran eBay. (She didn't create it, lest you thought, but was brought in later.) It too is an impressive position - but it qualifies her to run Facebook. She did do a good job. But understand: most companies actually make a product. eBay makes...well, nothing. Moreover, its core workers are -- you, the public who bids on its own material. And this is her main credential to be governor of California: that she ran a business that makes no product, whose core wok is done by non-employees she doesn't manage..

No wonder that all Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina can think of doing in the Republican primary is trying to ridicule their Republican opponents, Steve Poizner and Tom Campbell. Who at least have actually done something in politics. Who actually have a record to judge.

Who actually have voted.

Like many Americans.