Carly Fiorina’s Got My Vote
February 9, 2010 5 Comments
It’s only February, but the 2010 elections are heating up fast…
In fact, ROTI has already chosen its favorite candidate of the upcoming election cycle. It’s Carly Fiorina, a California Republican who hopes to challenge longtime incumbent Senator Barbara Boxer in November. Fiorina may not be the most wise or deserving candidate out there, but she has one thing going for her that I personally find irresistible…a knack for enraging her opponents, entertaining onlookers, and setting fire to everything she touches.
What’s not to love?
Carly Fiorina first made headlines as the extraordinarily high-profile CEO of HP, and during her stint at the head of the electronics giant, she managed to turn the company’s most devoted loyalists into her mortal enemies, destroy HP’s legendary corporate culture, and ram through a massive merger that went awry. But no worries, because she scored a lucrative golden parachute!
She then became the high-profile economic spokesman for John McCain, propounding the economic ideas that carried him to victory in 2008. Oh whoops, actually flip that and reverse it. Her straw-grasping defenses of Sarah Palin were so effective, they ultimately led to the campaign dumping her altogether.
Now Carly Fiorina is running for Senate, despite the fact that she has skipped most every election she has been eligible to vote in during her lifetime. It hasn’t taken her long to electrify the Republican primary with an unbelievably stupid website and an instantly-classic viral campaign video. This lady is awesome!
One thing that even her mortal enemies have to give Carly Fiorina credit for is that she truly was a trailblazer in the world of business — one of the first women to become a power player in corporate culture.
After the former Cara Carleton Sneed (wouldn’t C.C. Sneed have made for an amazing political name?) graduated from Stanford in 1976, she worked as a secretary, assistant and temp at a number of corporations, including HP. After she joined AT&T in the early 80s, she worked her way up the corporate ladder, taking a jackhammer to the old glass ceiling and playing a critical role in AT&T’s spinoff from Lucent.
By the turn of the century, Carly Fiorina was considered one of the world’s foremost businesswomen. That’s when HP tapped her to lead the company into the new millennium. Unfortunately, what HP found out is that legendary status as a gender trailblazer does not necessarily entail the possession of top-notch corporate skills, especially when taking over a company as a complete outsider.
Fiorina’s main problem was that she busted into HP with guns blazing, hell-bent on transforming a company that had prospered for years through the “HP Way” established by its founders, Bill Hewlett and David Packard. Long before Apple Computer, Hewlett-Packard was the original tech company started in a suburban garage, and it grew into a megacorporation by obeying the following maxims:
- We have trust and respect for individuals.
- We focus on a high level of achievement and contribution.
- We conduct our business with uncompromising integrity.
- We achieve our common objectives through teamwork.
- We encourage flexibility and innovation.
As an informative article called “10 Reasons People Hate Carly Fiorina” on the site Business Pundit explains, Fiorina bombed at HP because she completely failed to respect any of these principles.
After the tech bubble burst, Fiorina started swinging the axe, canning 18,000 employees. Meanwhile, she was an outspoken proponent of globalizing the workforce (ie. outsourcing), and didn’t hesitate to buy herself a corporate jet so she could make her many, many speaking engagements. HP employees asked themselves, “We should trust her…why?”
Fiorina implemented a top-down management structure, shattering the collaborative processes that had served HP well for so long. While she was off launching new marketing initiatives with Gwen Stefani, her hand-picked cronies bossed around the department heads that had long been given latitude to run their own shops. Instead of pushing for innovation, she relied on market dogma and marketing platitudes. HP could have been the company to design the iPod or otherwise revolutionize the tech industry, but instead it simply milked its printer-ink profit center and hyped up its CEO.
Perhaps most insidiously, Fiorina pushed the company to crush leaks at all costs, initiating a program that ended up violating a number of federal laws, including wiretapping and “pretexting.” So much for Hewlett and Packard’s “uncompromising integrity.”
The HP Way was meaningless to Fiorina, who makes a point of trashing it to this day. In her world, the genius of a marketing executive far outweighs the technical chops of an engineer. That’s why some have called her the “Anti-Steve Jobs,” by unfavorable comparison to the brilliant engineer-marketer who has driven innovation AND business success everywhere he’s gone.
All this explains why when Fiorina made a push to acquire Compaq, one of HP’s main competitors in the personal computer market, the move was fiercely opposed by many shareholders and employees, leading to a massive public showdown that Fiorina barely managed to win. The deal led to some short-term hemorrhaging and ultimately to Fiorina’s dismissal.
While the purchase of a deflated Compaq ultimately proved to be a decent move on Fiorina’s part, it was nevertheless the impetus for her ouster. Fiorina had so utterly failed to lead HP, and had burned so many bridges along the way, that the company’s board and employees simply did not trust her anymore. Her willingness to continually shake up HP, ostensibly for her own glorification, proved too much for the company to handle. They sent her packing with a $20 million severance package and closed the book on the disastrous Fiorina Era.
Portfolio named her one of the Worst American CEOs of All Time. So naturally, her next move was to join political life.
Here’s Carly with her homeboy Johnny Mac. Ironically for someone with a reputation as a job-slasher and outsourcer, Fiorina carried the economic banner for McCain with an emphasis on job creation. But during the summer of 2008, McCain was still preaching that the US economy was basically sound and that the only real threat lay in an Obama victory. At the time, he clearly didn’t realize what a liability Carly Fiorina was to the campaign.
He found out soon enough, when Fiorina mentioned that Sarah Palin didn’t have the expertise required to run an American corporation, and then by way of clarifying her remarks, stated that NONE of the presidential or vice-presidential candidates had the chops to be a CEO, including McCain! Hilariously, all this occurred in the context of Fiorina’s attempt to defend Palin from “sexist” attacks.
The fact that what Fiorina said was pretty much the truth (and besides, the government is NOT like a corporation, no matter how many candidates with private-sector careers may claim that it is) didn’t keep the McCain campaign from flipping out in rage at Fiorina’s loose talk. She was quickly shoved off of the stump and not heard from again.
As we all know, McCain went down to a huge defeat, thanks largely to his tone-deafness on economic matters.
Another brilliant success story from the life of Carly Fiorina!
For the small band of Fiorina-watchers out there (I’ve personally been entranced by her incompetence since 2001), the prospect of her challenging Babs Boxer in 2010 was electrifying.
She has not disappointed thus far, either, launching a political campaign that has caused jaws to drop and eyes to roll.
It all began with the preview/launch of her absurd campaign website, preserved and savaged by this YouTube video:
Carlyfornia Dreamin’?! It wouldn’t take a lot of effort to work up some song parody lyrics comparing her horrible website to poop and deriding it as “gay,” but that would be an unforgivable insult to the color brown and gay people — oh and by the way, Fiorina is a big fan of sexual orientation bigotry, being a staunch supporter of Proposition 8.
The LA Times busted her for skipping dozens of elections throughout her time as a California resident, and she gave some lame excuse about not feeling “connected” to politicians. The CA Democrats were only too eager to paint her as a corporate fat-cat and failed CEO, while her Republican opponents blasted her as a Juanita-come-lately in search of another powerful perch from which to preen.
But Carly’s no dope. She recently retook the offensive with a political ad so amazing, it’s gone massively viral and entranced even the most disinterested of political watchers.
Behold, the now-legendary Demon Sheep Spot!
When it comes to negative political advertising, it simply does not get better than this.
This ad has it all — intellectual dishonesty regarding government spending, comparison of the opponent to swine, amazingly damning voiceover guy, weird acronyms, and the elusive “WTF” factor. (This could only be the work of the weird and wonderful Fred Davis, who also created the Obama Celebrity spot and the King Roy ad.)
No wonder the “FCINO” ad has captivated the attention of even disinterested political watchers. I’m obliged to give a hat tip to ROTI contributor C. Dave, who first noticed this amazing spot, but since then I’ve seen it shared on Facebook, Twitter and Google Reader. It really is a masterpiece.
This version is amazing:
Then there’s this amusing Twitter page that purports to be from the Demon Sheep himself:
As far as ROTI is concerned, she makes a superb candidate for office. If she finds a way to get elected, she’ll only continue her record of spectacular disasters and high-profile blunders. Yes, this will be unfortunate for the people of California, but think of the material she’ll bestow on our little corner of the Internets!
I guess she’s not the only one who’s “Carlyfornia dreamin’.”