The first woman GOP presidential candidate has declared herself: it’s Carly Fiorina. She’s not campaigning as the ‘anti-Hillary’ but a better solution to Hillary Clinton. As of yet, she hasn’t openly bashed Hillary Clinton, unlike her other male colleagues. No mention of Hillary’s expensive wardrobe, hair and makeup team, the extra private jet for her luggage and the like. Her male colleagues can take a lesson or two from Mrs. Fiorina’s restraint.
Fiorina’s slogan on her campaign website is: “We can do this.Together. It is time to declare the end of identity politics. It is time to declare the end of lowered expectations. It is time for citizens to stand up to the political class.” First of all, everyone has an identity. It’s impossible to run a campaign without an identity. It may not be the extreme left-wing or right-wing identity type of campaign but she definitely running on a very specific identity and agenda: she is running as a businesswoman, an executive who is going to make the government more efficient, a person with experience in the real world (as opposed to a career politician who is clueless), she is pro-life of course (a requirement), a practicing Christian, and a political outsider, though not by choice, she lost a tough and bruising battle to Senator Barbara Boxer. All of this would have been great provided that Mrs. Fiorina was a successful business executive. Her record at Hewlett-Packard was underwhelming at best, some would label it a disaster, her acquisition of Compaq was strongly opposed by the board of HP and even had a boardroom showdown with Walter Hewlett, the son founder William Hewlett. Walter Hewlett was regularly described as a ‘low key cellist’, or a basically ‘loser’ in the tech world, but as he observed of the Compaq acquisition and wondered out loud why would one double down investment on such a low profit margin product such as the PC. So what if you are biggest PC maker in the world (as that was Fiorina’s aim)? Perhaps he wasn’t so ‘low key’ after all, he did pay attention to his father’s business. It turns out Walter Hewlett was right, the acquisition was a huge disaster, HP lost more than half of its value on its stocks and it never felt so good to be so right for Walter.
But it’s not just the miscalculation of acquiring Compaq that will cost Fiorina in this campaign, it’s also the policies she adopted during the acquisition, she outsourced 15,0000 jobs overseas, and what’s worse, she had the people she was about to layoff train their own replacements, if that’s not illegal or unethical, it’s at least cold and unfeeling. All in all, it was over for her in five years. She was fired for her poor performance (though she claimed to 60 Minutes that she had no clue why she was fired and she was given no notice). It was the first time HP has fired their CEO, worth mentioning because HP is well known for valuing their top employees. And for this ‘failure’ she was awarded $100 million dollars as her severance package, while the company she ran lost half its value.
It’s not a crime to be an unsuccessful CEO, she wanted to be successful and make HP the biggest PC maker on the market but dot com bust happened and the PC computers has begun giving way to more portable way of using the computer like laptops and tablet devices. Her failed tenure as CEO was partly her own miscalculation and unforeseen market changes, so it’s not all her fault. But what will be a huge problem is if she intends run for president by using her business track record, which for all intents and purposes, is considered a failure. And since her departure from HP, she never held another high ranking position in another fortune 500 company. She never had a chance to ‘right’ her business record. After her departure from HP, she has served on boards of charities, and as a policy advisor for state and national governments.
She ran for senator against incumbent Barbara Boxer in the 2010 midterm elections hoping to capitalize on the Tea Party insurgency but she ran from the wrong state, it was a close and contentious race where her record at HP was brought to forefront by the Boxer campaign and the fact that she laid off 15,000 American workers was replayed over and over again on our TV screens and in the end, she lost to Boxer. If’s also fair to note that she laid off those people 7 years ago at the time of the 2010 midterm elections, but because California was still suffering from high unemployment, this was an effective anti-Fiorina message by the Boxer campaign.
If the GOP wants to find an alternative to Hillary Clinton, they should consider a candidate like Meg Whitman, a CEO who was actually successful, is still relevant today and has close ties to Silicon Valley. Meg Whitman also tried to run for governor of California in 2010, she ran a huge and expensive campaign where over $100 million of her own money was used, in the end she lost to Jerry Brown who only spent a fraction of what she spent in his campaign. After her failed run for the California governorship, she joined the board of HP (the irony) and was appointed its CEO in 2011 with hopes of turning the company around and really making it the biggest PC maker today. Her performance is mediocre at best, some call it underachieving, just one step above being a ‘failure’ but the jury is still out. But Meg Whitman can legitimately say that she was brought in to fix HP and that it was already underperforming prior to her arrival. She, unlike Carly Fiorna, didn’t cause the demise of HP.
For the GOP base, Meg Whitman would be considered too liberal, she’s pro-marriage equality and pro-choice and not a particularly devout Christian. The fact that she identifies as Republican and has actual success in business when she was CEO of eBay isn’t good enough for the GOP base. They call the likes of her a RINO (Republican in name only), who is only fiscally conservative but not socially conservative. What the Republican party continually fail to recognize is that their old order is dying. Their anti-gay, anti-abortion, Christian and social conservatism is no longer relevant to the electorate anymore. People today care about jobs, their health care, the overall state of the economy and a safety net for those who need it in times of crisis. Even people who are socially conservative, will not go so far as to openly condemn others who do not share conservative views.
With each attack on gay marriage, debating whether being homosexual is a ‘choice’ or not, attacking and shaming women who’ve gotten abortions and questioning the legitimacy of each rape incidence that has led to a pregnancy, shaming people on public assistance as being lazy and unmotivated the Republicans are shrinking their voter base, even people who consider themselves as moderate Republicans will recoil from these kind of uncalled for attacks. Being a Republican equals being a narrow minded bigot and nobody wants to be that.