I had been hearing for weeks that Carly Fiorina was the hottest speaker on the nascent Republican campaign circuit – except perhaps for Marco Rubio, but the senator’s formidable communications skills have been known for years . Even the New York Times was trumpeting Fiorina’s appeal in a column describing the long lines to hear the former Hewlett-Packard CEO speak under the typically equivocal NYT headline “Carly Talks, Iowa Swoons and the Polls Shrug,” just to make sure nobody gets ahead of themselves.
Well, maybe they won’t shrug at some point, but whatever the case, it was with some interest that I accepted an invitation to attend a luncheon at which Fiorina was speaking. And I’m here to affirm what others have been saying. This lady can communicate. In fact, she’s exceptionally good at it. Even more, she actually has something to say. And can answer questions. Intelligently and without evading the subject even once.
But before I go further, I have to acknowledge what many of you may already suspect. When Fiorina speaks there is another woman in the room. A ghost. And her name is Hillary Rodham Clinton. You can’t get the former secretary of state out of your mind as Carly is talking, because two versions of a modern woman are automatically being presented to you — one genuinely progressive in the true English-language sense of that simple word and one a metaphorical “progressive” in the Orwellian Democratic Party usage with which we are continually assaulted. One answers questions about practically everything while the other avoids answering anything and on those rare occasions when she does, lies.
Now I am aware the rap against Carly is that she lost to Barbara Boxer in the California Senate race. (She jokes about this, referring to how her husband of 30 years always says to her “I can’t believe you lost to Barbara Boxer!”) And I’m also aware she was fired from her job as CEO of Hewlett-Packard. Having been a CEO of a tiny company (this one) for seven years, I’m not altogether sure what we learn from that and I might point out the most famous CEO of our era, Steve Jobs, was also fired from his post at that obscure company he started. Whatever.
But I will say this, being a CEO of a company the size of HP is a damn sight harder and more complex job than being the governor of a state or a senator — and I say that with all due respect to governors and senators. There’s a reason CEOs make the skadillion dollars they do — sometimes anyway. They’re responsible to their stock holders and the board on a daily basis, not just every four or six years at election time when voters may or may not remember who they are or what they did.
Listening to Fiorina, I suspect she did a lot, since her overall knowledge of global situations was high. She had quite a balanced view of China, not regarding them as an enemy, but an “adversary” to be watched. She had personally been toe-to-toe with Putin, but offered him no reset button. Instead, she would like to arm the Ukrainians. When it comes to the Middle East, I would call her a measured hawk. He first phone call, she said, after inauguration would be to Benjamin Netanyahu, reaffirming (or I should say reconstructing) our alliance with Israel. All of our supposed allies would be listening in on that one, she noted, because how you deal with one of your closest allies would be replicated with all. I think , by now, we all know how right she is about that.
On the domestic front, she had numerous practical proposals for drawing down the debt, including one not to hire new government employees for the positions of retiring baby boomers. Just let them expire. She’d also like to have weekly televised sessions with the public to try to bypass the media and put pressure on legislators by having Americans vote for things on their cellphones, the way they do for The Voice. For example, she said, is it okay to pay government employees for watching porn on their computers all day while others actually do their work? Press one if… well, you get the idea.
But most important, I think, is that Carly stay in this thing, not be cut out by some arbitrary debate limit. She is the anti-Hillary and by far the best positioned to put paid to the Witch of Chappaqua. And not just because she is a woman, but because she is, as she says, “fearless.”
ONE MORE THING: Speaking of Rubio, how about a Rubio-Fiorina ticket — or the other way around? An Hispanic and a woman. That would shake up the preconceptions of the liberal bourgeoisie. And in my fantasy, if they won, they could make a joint inaugural address explaining to America that this was the end of “identity politics.” It’s reactionary, anti-democratic and against everything this country should stand for. We’re all just Americans. No more hyphens.