Conservatives loved Fiorina's steely-eyed look and harsh brevity, but Whitey Bulger had the same persona, how'd that work out?
Following the most recent episode—televised nationwide by CNN—of “GOP Candidates Confirm That Americans Should Not Elect One Of Them To The Presidency.” Republicans could not stop talking about what they termed the “steely-eyed” look of Carly Fiorina. They liked it. A lot.
They were also just, well, enthralled by what they called the “harsh brevity” with which she responded to the inquiries—such as they were—of Jake Tapper and the comments of her fellow “debaters.” They didn’t care that the “harsh brevity” that fooled the easily-fooled Chris Matthews into fawning over her being “quick on her feet” was, in actuality, nothing more than a selection of well-rehearsed stock phrases from her stump speech. They still liked her “harsh brevity,” even if it was phony. They liked it a lot.
As I recall, Whitey Bulger also manifested a “steely-eyed” look and employed “harsh brevity” when responding to questioners. Fortunately, however, only the “If We Can’t Have Putin, We Want Bulger” wing of the American Right is actually lobbying for Whitey to be released from prison and his record expunged so that he can run for the country’s highest office.
They love Whitey’s negotiating skills and think he could have gotten the U.S. a “better deal” with the Iranian mullahs. And they talk a lot about his ability to put “muscle” into U.S. foreign policy. Which is a little scary. Okay, a lot scary.
As it turns out, though, Carly “Bring on Mayweather” Fiorina’s support is a bit more broad-based than Whitey’s on the American Right. She rocketed up to second-place in Republican polling following the “debate,” knocking Ben “Only Christians Need Apply” Carson out of the runner-up position and pulling to within shouting distance of Donald “Vaccines Cause Autism In The Children Of My Employees” Trump. All three of these stellar candidates have almost double-digit leads over the presumptive GOP nominee, Jeb “Let’s Put A Brit, Margaret Thatcher, On The Ten-Dollar Bill Because There Are No American Women Who Qualify For It” Bush.
The latter, of course, comes as a surprise only to an oblivious few. After all, compared to Jebbers, Mitch McConnell looks like a bi-coastal, jet-setting party boy who oozes sophistication and panache. Even Columba yawns when Hubby—in English, Spanish, or both—starts reprising the virtues of more tax cuts for the wealthy and trickle-down economics. Which does raise the question of how he thinks he can get America to “rise up” when he can’t even get a rise out of his own wife?
But, back to Whitey Bulger. Wait. My bad. Back to Carly Fiorina.
It appears as though the press is as taken by Carly’s “steely-eyed” look and “harsh brevity” as her fan base. And I say that only because members of the media are, in large numbers, giving Carly an almost total pass on what has morphed from a slight drizzle into an absolute downpour of unsubstantiated insinuations, misleading statements and outright lies.
Heather Digby Parsons, writing in Salon, is one of the few journalists not keen on issuing pardons to Carly. She rightly points out what would be obvious to anyone who knows how to use Google Search; i.e., that Carly Fiorina has a “very loose relationship with the truth.” Not that it necessarily matters to her fans.
The most vocal of the Republican base long ago stopped caring about candidates using blatant falsehoods as a means to the end of getting elected; cf. Barack Obama was born in Kenya; Barack Obama is a secret Muslim; Barack Obama is the Anti-Christ.
Indeed, the right-wing’s infatuation with Carly has increased as her “very loose relationship with the truth” has become more and more a standard part of her riff. And, when the media actually gets around to calling her out, conservatives rise up in righteous indignation and characterize it as just another instance of one of their own being victimized by the “mainstream media” and “left-wing elites.” Carly Fiorina, they say, isn’t lying. She is “speaking truth to power” and “the powers-that-be just don’t like the truth she’s speaking.”
Presumably, that explains/justifies the revisionist history she has formulated regarding her business career—in particular, the part of it spent driving Hewlett-Packard into the ground.
Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a professor of management at Yale, studied Carly’s tenure at HP and, to say the least, came to some not very complimentary conclusions. Rhetorically asking how she performed as HP’s CEO, his reply was an example of harsh brevity: “Pretty badly.”
Beyond her toxic persona and management style, Carly’s business acumen—or, lack of—ultimately led to the tanking of HP’s corporate value. The consequences of the $19 billion acquisition of Compaq—which she pushed through over the advice and outright opposition of many—are so publicly known as to not require a detailed summary. Suffice it to say that it led to a 55% drop in HP’s stock value and job losses just north of 30,000.
Another item that won’t be mentioned on Carly’s website is the part she led Hewlett-Packard to play in the laughable Homeland Investment Act of 2004.
This piece of legislation granted U.S. corporations a one year “tax holiday” on over $265 billion in overseas profits which had been banked in offshore accounts. Led by Carly Fiorina, Hewlett-Packard played a leading role in pushing the bill through Congress, promising, of course, that the windfall profits would “generate economic growth and therefore jobs at home.” The money, proponents said, would go toward research and development and other job-creating endeavors. Where have we heard that before?
Though the legislation itself banned using the repatriated funds for stock buybacks—which would essentially serve as a cash pipeline to stockholders and CEOs—that, by-and-large, was exactly what happened to the money.
It did not go to R&D. It did not create jobs. Indeed, it led to a profit-frenzy among American corporations which eventually cost the country somewhere in the neighborhood of 100,000 jobs. As to HP itself, the tax holiday saved the company $4.3 billion, of which $4 billion went into stock buybacks. And 14,500 HP employees lost their jobs.
No wonder, then, that, following her firing, “CBS, USA Today and CNBC each called her one of the worst tech CEOs of all time.”
Indeed, in 2008, when Carly was serving “as a telegenic, take-no-prisoners surrogate” for John McCain, Sonnenfeld expressed surprise that the McCain campaign would place her in such a central and public position: “You couldn’t pick a worse, non-imprisoned CEO to be your standard-bearer.” He also noted that, since her firing, Carly has not been offered an executive position at any other company—almost a death knell per an executive resume.
Despite the indisputable numbers—which even she does not dispute—Carly Fiorina blithely dismisses Sonnenfeld’s analysis by saying that the good professor is “a Hillary supporter.” Uh-huh.
Carly’s “loose relationship with the truth” was equally self-evident during the second GOP debate, when she dramatically implied that a gruesome video of “a fully formed fetus” being kept alive in order “to harvest its brain” was somehow connected to Planned Parenthood.
It was a blatant lie. No such image exists on the 12 hours of heavily-edited footage provided by the bogus Center for Medical Progress. But even when George Stephanopoulos, on national television, confronted her with that accepted fact, Carly doubled-down on the lie:
No, Carly, they aren’t. Indeed, even when her Super PAC tried to splice together images from three different—and discredited—sources to produce the single image Carly described, it was quickly seen for the fraud that it was. But Carly just as quickly did what she is known for doing; denied she had lied.
Carly Fiorina has consistently called Hillary Clinton “a liar” per the attack on the consulate at Benghazi. And, though neither she nor seven congressional committees have been able to produce even a hint of evidence that might substantiate her claim, Carly refuses to back down on her assertion.
As Josh Marshall notes, “Fiorina has a habit of simply making things up. In the case of the Planned Parenthood videos, the way she made it up seems to verge on the pathological. Again she says she saw something that completely wasn’t there. This is just lying through your teeth or just being so indifferent to [the truth] that it amounts to the same thing.”
Now we can go back to Whitey Bulger. Because we can expect an administration headed by Carly Fiorina to act in the same manner.