We're so lucky in California to have two wealthy women running for political office in our upcoming primary. Who says we haven't come a long way, baby?
But while I'm a big fan of eBay, the candidate I want to focus on is Carly Fiorina, who wants to be our next female senator and promises to bring jobs, jobs, jobs to our beleaguered state. As opposed to that liberal do-nothing Barbara Boxer.
Let's review her credentials. Fiorina is perhaps best known for running Hewlett-Packard into the ground when she was CEO, a feat she achieved by laying off thousands of employees, shipping jobs overseas, pushing an ill-advised merger with Compaq, trashing the stock price, and generally destroying HP's famously mellow culture. For this she got sacked in 2005 in a unanimous and highly publicized vote by HP's board.
Understandably it's still a touchy topic. After a Tea Party rally in Pleasanton, CA, in April, Fiorina snapped at some reporters when, instead of asking her about the wonderful response she got from the crowd, they asked her about the recent federal probe into HP's murky business dealings with Russia when she led the company. And another about HP's relations with Iran. Talk about a downer!
All of which raises a question: with California's economy in tatters, a $19 billion deficit, unemployment at a staggering 12.5 percent, do we really need a failed CEO with a chip on her shoulder representing us in Washington? Someone who was widely reviled for axing jobs rather than creating them?
I hate to bring this up, but it's not like Fiorina has been an avid citizen or particularly excited about government, either. (Unless you count that auspicious period in 2008, when she was one of John McCain's economic advisers and got in trouble for saying he couldn't run a company.)
As Connie Bruck wrote in The New Yorker of Fiorina's record,"she has failed to vote in two-thirds of local, state and national elections since 2000, including gubernatorial elections and Presidential primaries."
I know teenagers who have better voting records than that.
Call me picky, but it also seems a stretch to call yourself a populist, as Fiorina has done every chance she gets, when you walked away from your last job with $21 million in severance, have a yacht, a mansion, a condo in Georgetown, and have been able to funnel at least $5.5 million of your personal fortune into a Senate race. But let's not dwell on the obvious.
Aside from the lack of interest problem, the conservative Republican also seems to think she's running in Texas or South Carolina, and has been proudly touting her endorsements from everyone from anti-choice groups to the NRA to Sarah Palin. (Who in her typical oblivious fashion got her facts about Fiorina's "humble beginnings" wrong, saying her dad was a school teacher. He was a law professor and later a federal judge.)
At least Fiorina, who has said she would overturn Roe v. Wade if given the chance, hasn't dubbed herself a feminist, like her new BFF Palin did recently in one of her more comic moments.
In her effort to win the Tea Party vote and disgruntled Independents, Fiorina has been particularly intent on slamming Tom Campbell, a former congressman and the lone moderate in the race. (Chuck DeVore, the other GOP candidate, is pretty much toast at this point.) It seems like ages ago, but remember the delightfully tacky demon sheep ad, where Fiorina painted Campbell as a "wolf in sheep's clothing"?
At a debate in May, when the GOP candidates were asked if people on the "no-fly list" should be allowed to carry guns, Fiorina attacked Campbell when he very sensibly said no, sniffing, "That's why he has a poor rating from the National Rifle Association, right there."
The attacks appear to have worked. This week Campbell pulled his ads off the air, after Fiorina leaped ahead in the polls.
She's nothing if not tenacious. Faster than you can say "demon sheep," Fiorina was up with a new ad trashing Barbara Boxer. In the ad Boxer is shown saying that climate change is a national security issue. Is that ridiculous, or what? Then Fiorina comes on screen and gravely says, "Terrorism kills, and Barbara Boxer is worried about the weather."
Is that ridiculous, or what?
As for the newly resurrected wedge issue of the moment, Fiorina is all for Arizona's harsh immigration law. At a time when Californians are most worried about jobs and not who's busing their tables or picking their strawberries, that might not be such a swell move.
There's also the no small matter that one in six voters in November is expected to be Hispanic. And that most young Californians have grown up in a strikingly diverse culture where race-baiting not only is unusual but extremely uncool.
Maybe Fiorina should move to Texas?