Roger L. Simon

Carly and Ben's Excellent Adventure


Because of the traffic jam that is the Republican presidential competition, Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson both ended up announcing on Monday nearly at the same time.

Does it matter?  No, not much. There’s a long way to go and neither is anything close to a frontrunner.  Indeed, the conventional wisdom is that neither has a chance.

Is that true?  I’d like to think not.  We’ll certainly be following them closely on the forthcoming “Diary of a Mad Voter” (debuting Monday, May 11) because they are two of the more interesting presidential candidates to have come along in a while, largely because they are not professional politicians, but are highly accomplished in other areas.  Somewhere James Madison and Thomas Jefferson must be smiling.  That is exactly what they intended.  (Well, we like to think so anyway.)

Both have fascinating  backgrounds.  Carson is something of secular saint.  A boy from a single-parent family in the ‘hood, he went on to attend some of our fanciest universities and become a pediatric neurosurgeon and the first human being ever, at age 37 (!), to separate Siamese twins.  What president or presidential candidate can say anything close?  Does this man have the equanimity to deal with the famous three a.m. phone call?  I should think so.

But, as the saying goes, the presidency “is not brain surgery” and a different skill set may apply.  Carson has already had some beginner’s stumbles and his orthodox social conservatism may not serve him in the general election.  On the other hand, it might.  Can you imagine someone of the extreme goodness and unshakeable morality of Dr. Ben Carson faced off in debate with her shiftiness, the Queen of the Erased Emails, Ms. Hillary R. Clinton herself (or as the New York Times so primly calls her, Mrs. Clinton)?  It would be an interesting spectacle.

But speaking of Hillary, Carly Fiorina has already positioned herself as the anti-Hillary and has been doing a damned good job of it.  As evasive as the former secretary of state is, the business woman Fiorina is direct. Carly tells it like it is while Hillary doesn’t tell it.  Fiorina was a hit at CPAC.  I liked her when I interviewed her for a PJ Media podcast back when she was running for the Senate against Barbara Boxer.  That she lost wasn’t really surprising. Beating a Democrat, especially a sitting one, in California these days is about as easy as sealing the San Andreas Fault.

The rap against Carly is that she wasn’t such a great CEO of Hewlett-Packard. I’m not so sure.  As one who was CEO of this (waaay smaller) company for seven years, I am well aware of the tales that can be told.  Maybe they’re true.  Maybe they’re not.  What is clear is that the 2015 Carly Fiorina has got it going.  The longer the anti-Hillary stays in the race, the better off we’ll be.

Nevertheless, are these two merely running for the vice-presidential slot?  Maybe.  But you don’t have to be as much of a fan of Lawrence of Arabia as I am to agree with one of its most famous lines:  “Nothing is written!

(Artwork composited from a pair of AP photos.)