Getting axed from HP doesn’t qualify Fiorina for Senate.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
As the current California contests illustrate, we may still be living in a land with the best political system money can buy.
The startling rise of Carly Fiorina to Republican senatorial nominee is a case in point.
Fiorina, of course, is most famous for being fired from the top spot at Hewlett-Packard in 2005 after successfully antagonizing its employees, shareholders and founders.
As David W. Packard, the son of HP founder David Packard and the head of the Packard Humanities Institute, recently wrote in an op-ed piece for the San Jose Mercury News: “Fiorina’s relentless pursuit of size and market share only served her personal ambition to be celebrated as ‘the most powerful woman in American business.’ Her fatal failing was her inability to win the respect of HP employees, which stemmed from her inability to trust, empower and motivate these employees.”
The fact that the Fiorina-led acquisition of Compaq has worked out speaks more to the skill of her successor, Mark Hurd, than to her abilities as a corporate leader.
The media romance with corporate buccaneers continues, most recently manifesting itself in a lengthy New York Times Magazine article on Fiorina’s likely run against incumbent Democrat Barbara Boxer. The likely prelude to many such pieces to come, it’s a a sign of just how skewed our priorites have become.
Who says that plutocrats – whether they’re washed-up Hollywood action stars (Schwarzenegger), eBay executives who made disastrous decisions like overpaying for Skype (Meg Whitman), or Silicon Valley entrepreneurs with fishy resumes and pandering policies (Steve Poizner) – know a damn thing about solving California’s problems?
BOXER PRESENTS A TEMPTING TARGET FOR THE RIGHT, AS AN OUTSPOKEN ADVOCATE .
Boxer presents a tempting target for the right, as an outspoken advocate of progressive causes who hasn’t run away from her liberal roots, unlike many of her Democratic colleagues. She’s been elected to three terms despite – or some would argue because of – her refusal to compromise on core issues. She opposed the decision to invade Iraq, then pushed for a timetable to get out. She has been a consistent voice for holding the line against offshore drilling, unlike her Republican opponents or, for that matter, the Obama administration, which has equivocated on the subject until forced to reconsider its compromise positions in the wake of the disaster in the Gulf.
Meanwhile, Fiorina, who has been endorsed by Sarah Palin, is pandering to the far right. During a recent Republican debate, she argued that people on the no-fly list should be allowed to carry a gun, a position supported by the National Rifle Association and no one else. Her anti-choice stance has also won her endorsements from the National Right to Life Committee and the California ProLife Council.
But such positions may help her more in the primary than the general election.
As Dan Schnur, a former aide to Pete Wilson who has just been appointed to head the Fair Practices Political Commission, told the Times: “Barbara Boxer is good at a lot of things, but her single greatest talent is runing against pro-life opponents. She’s run against three of them so far, and in each of these campaigns, she’s used this particular issue to great effect.”
But given the anti-incumbency sentiment, there’s no question that Boxer’s team is worried.
“In Fiorina’s latest ad, she attacks Barbara’s work to reduce the threat of climate change as just being ‘worried about the weather,’” a recent e-mail from her campaign committee observes. “That’s just wrong. Carly’s ad may fire up the right wing and the Tea Party extremists, but it shows how out of step she is with Californians.”
Fiorina’s stance on immigration has been equally odious.
“The people of Arizona did what they felt they had to do, absent the federal government’s decision to do its job,” she has said. “This is the federal government’s job. It’s President Obama’s job. And Barbara Boxer, as our senator, instead of standing up and challenging the constitutionality of the Arizona law, she ought to be standing on the president’s desk and saying, ‘Do your job.’ Why is it that we are prepared to allow the federal government to be unaccountable and to not do its job?”
Carly Fiorina was fired from the last job she held, and the “fiscal conservative” walked away with a $21 million severance package.
California is already broke, and can’t afford to put someone who presided over a corporate train wreck into the U.S. Senate.
Myths of the self-made man or woman may be appealing, but money doesn’t necessarily guarantee political wisdom. Anyone remember Ross Perot?