Former CEO of HP Carly Fiorina is still running for the Republican Presidential nomination despite the fact that it is painfully obvious that she won’t win. Irrespective of this fact she has managed to poll sufficiently high numbers to get into the main debate with people who might actually win the nomination. Fiorina has often positioned herself as a foreign policy ‘specialist’ and has used every debate to spew facts about ways she will improve the US military, so it was unsurprising that she came across as knowing what she was talking about.
The first thing that Fiorina was asked about was about national security. She responded, in a slight against Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, by saying that “we need solutions not lawyers arguing over laws or entertainers”. Firstly I don’t like Ted Cruz, but to criticise him for being a lawyer is moronic because surely it would be an advantage to know about the legal constraints of the President, lest a person puts out policy suggestions that are clearly unconstitutional.
Also Fiorina has often been interviewed by very right-wing people about the Founding Fathers and why they were so awesome. I hate to point this out but Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton were lawyers. Indeed 25 of the 56 men that signed the Declaration of Independence were lawyers, and 32 of the 55 framers of the Constitution were lawyers. Arguing that people in politics shouldn’t be lawyers isn’t a great argument to make.
She continued by arguing that the government needs to bring the private sector in because “the government isn’t innovating”. I didn’t find her phrasing to be particularly reassuring because, although many other candidates said things that were largely the same, the way that Fiorina described this policy was eerily like she wanted to give a lot of governmental power to private companies. There are two possibilities: this was not her intention and she wants to work with the private sector, or this was her intention and she is advocating Mussolini-style fascism. I’m going to give her the benefit of the doubt that she just phrased it wrong, although given the fact that other candidates want to establish a Christian theocracy (Mike Huckabee) or racialist fascism (Donald Trump), I wouldn’t overly surprised if Fiorina jumped on the far-right bandwagon.
Fiorina was brought into the conversation later on in which she reiterated her view that the private sector needed to play a role in terrorist prevention. She went to criticise the “incompetent post-9/11 bureaucracy” which always goes down well in front of a crowd of Republicans. The former CEO then finished by throwing raw meat to the crowd by saying that the Obamacare website didn’t work because the private sector wasn’t involved.
This actually isn’t true as the website was designed by the start-up company Development Seed and the bulk of the work was contracted out to the CGI Group, which is a Canadian multinational company. Indeed in 2014 the CGI Group was replaced by Accenture, which has net revenues of $31 billion; say what you want about the Affordable Care Act but to say that the private sector was not involved is just false.
She later chipped in with a slight at “a first term Senator with no executive experience”, which was a reference to both Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. It is a good point to make, however Fiorina has only ever been a CEO which is really not the same as a constitutionally limited President. A CEO can make sweeping decisions whereas the US President can do exactly not that. She finished with a quote from Margaret Thatcher because Thatcher knew Reagan and thus is for reason revered by the Republican base.
Fiorina’s final contribution was how she wants to increase military expenditure by “rebuilding the Sixth Fleet, rebuilding the missile defence system, and conducting aggressive military exercises in the Baltic States”. I’ve already written in previous pieces why this is stupid as it would balloon the military budget, thus increasing the deficit and increasing the US national debt.
She also asserted that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton created ISIS because they left Iraq too soon. Considering that some of the people that created ISIS were Saddam Hussein’s old Baathist generals that wanted to cause chaos for the new Shia ruling class, blaming Obama and Clinton would be strange. If anybody is to blame its a combination of President Assad, Saudi Arabia, Al Qaeda and the Bush Administration (which is a weird list I grant you).
To conclude Fiorina did okay in terms of what she said, for the Republican base, but she largely faded into the background. The focus of the debate was mostly between Bush, Rubio, Trump and Cruz. As a result Fiorina’s points, even though many of them went down well with the audience, largely went unreported and I can only foresee the former HP CEO dropping out of the race in the not too distant future.