In 1992, independent candidate Ross Perot chose Admiral James Stockdale, a complete unknown, as his presidential running mate. In his first debate, the VP candidate began by asking two good questions: “Who am I? Why am I here?”
Carly Fiorina, the Republican presidential contender who’s surged in recent polls of GOP primary voters, ought to ask those questions, too. For now, she’s positioning herself as a no-nonsense, successful corporate chieftain who can run government with business-like efficiency.
In a recent debate, Fiorina rattled off a list of her accomplishments as CEO of tech conglomerate Hewlett-Packard: “We doubled the size of the company,” “quadrupled its top-line growth rate,” “quadrupled its cash flow,” and “tripled its rate of innovations,” she declared in PowerPoint style.
Brandishing statistics, however, can be a sophisticated way of lying.
In fact, the growth Fiorina bragged about was mostly the result of her buying Compaq, another computer giant, in a merger that proved to be disastrous. Hewlett-Packard’s profits declined 40 percent in her six years, its stock price plummeted, and she cut loose 30,000 workers — even saying publicly that their jobs should be shipped overseas. Finally, she was fired.
Before we accept her claim that “running government like a business” would be a positive, note that the narcissistic corporate culture richly rewarded Fiorina for failure. Yes, she was fired, but unlike the thousands of HP employees she dumped, a golden parachute let her land in luxury: Counting severance pay, stock options, and pension, she pocketed $42 million to go away.
But, here she comes again. Lacking even one iota of humility, this personification of corporate greed and economic inequality is now throwing out a blizzard of lies to hide who she is — and to bamboozle Republicans into thinking she belongs in the White House.
OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown.Reach