The second Republican debate was full of crap. Except for Donald Trump, all the candidates embraced the tax cutting for the rich that comes with supply side economics, and nobody spoke up for raising the minimum wage. Only Rand Paul challenged the notion that a strong US military can achieve anything anywhere in the world. Jeb Bush doubled down on the myth that his brother kept America safe, in spite of the fact that 9/11 happened on Dubya’s watch and that he was asleep when a memo warning of a serious threat from Al Qaeda came in. Everybody seemed to agree that Obama created ISIS by pulling the troops out of Iraq, and that he should have bombed Syria to cause the fall of Assad, repeating the formidable success in Libya after the death of Ghadaffi. The general consensus among the candidates appeared to be that climate change is a Democratic ploy to weaken the US economy, and they all felt that Obama had destroyed America, after it had been handed to him in pristine state by the last Republican administration. The low point in the debate came towards the end, with Donald Trump scaremongering about child vaccinations and an abundance of blatant lies about Planned Parenthood.
According to most pundits Carly Fiorina won the debate. Her rise in the polls generates more scrutiny, which is unfortunate for her because Fiorina’s own crap is not pretty. She peddles the story that she rose from secretary to CEO, but she only worked as a secretary during summers while an undergraduate student at Stanford, and then went on to Business School and a management career. She touts her achievements at Hewlett Packard, pointing at the growth of the company while she was its CEO, but that growth was only created by a failed acquisition of Compaq, which resulted in a 50% decline of the value of the firm and the layoff of 30,000 employees. And while she was getting rid of those people, at least temporarily taking away their livelihood, Fiorina bought herself a $1 million yacht. Professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld of the Yale School of Management called her tenure ‘disastrous,’ pointing out that after HP nobody else offered her a job. During the debate she pseudo-emotionally referred to a video showing ‘a fully formed fetus, heart beating, legs kicking,’ with Planned Parenthood people talking about the need to keep it alive to harvest its brain. The video turned out to be a fabrication by anti-abortion activists.
So in Carly Fiorina’s case the old adage holds true that you have to be careful what you wish for. Some pundits see her rise as a potential breakthrough of the GOP to women, but one of her problems is that she is completely tone deaf on women’s issues. Her best moment in the debate came when she shamed Donald Trump for having criticized her looks, but afterwards Senator Barbara Boxer reminded everybody that Fiorina did the same to her during their US Senate race in California.
Donald Trump might be a better breakthrough vehicle to women than Carly Fiorina, and the bar he sets is not very high. Those who were worried about his unexpectedly long hold on the lead in the polls have even more reason to be scared of Fiorina. Unlike Trump she has a realistic chance of at least ending up as a candidate for the Vice Presidency, and she is meaner than Trump will ever be.
For Hillary Clinton all of this is good news. One of her two personalities is cold and calculating, but it doesn’t even come close to the icy looks and the steely demeanor Carly Fiorina can produce. Even at her worst Hillary will look warm and fuzzy compared to Fiorina, and that can only help her.