The Elephant on the Debate Floor

Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett Packard and candidate for President of the United States, will be taking the stage at the September 16th Republican primary debate, sponsored by CNN. Her rise in the polls comes after a strong performance in the August 6th junior varsity debate, hosted by Fox. She has a commanding presence, and speaks with confidence and the appearance that she is well versed on issues; she speaks with strength. This will serve her well with Republican voters, who value it above all other traits–including common sense or competence. Unfortunately, Carly Fiorina is hindered in her bid for the Republican nomination by one unfortunate trait: Carly Fiorina is a woman. While she is doing well in the polls now, she will not be able to secure the votes needed to obtain the nomination, because the Republican Party will not nominate a woman, any more than they will nominate a black man. The party hasn’t come that far yet.

One need look back no further than 2012 for an example of how this will end. In the 2012 Primary, Michelle Bachmann was surging and looking like she might get some serious traction–right up to the point where Rick Perry entered the race. Perry was everything Bachmann was: deeply conservative, an evangelical Christian, staunchly anti-gay, pro-marriage, pro-gun, fervently against the separation of church and state. In fact, the only difference between Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann was that he has a penis. Her support evaporated as her followers migrated to the male version of Bachmann. If the ascendance of Donald Trump and Ben Carson to current poll leaders is any indication, clearly the same voters are having a significant impact on the early lead. Fiorina is in the race as proof that the GOP aren’t a bunch of sexist pigs, the same way Ben Carson is in the race to prove they aren’t a bunch of hateful bigots.

Except they are, and she’ll be dropping out at some point, because she will not get the actual votes she needs. I could revise this opinion in the future, but do not expect to. In addition to being female, she has several other hurdles ahead of her.

Name Recognition

If you read the first sentence and asked “Carly who?” congratulations: you join the 60% of Republican voters who have never even heard of her. Granted, this will shift after the September 16th debate, but if 60% of your potential voters are  only learning you exist 13 months before the general election, that’s a tough hill to climb. Not only does she have to introduce herself, she has to convince people that she is qualified to lead the party and the nation in the short few months that comprise the primary election. This would be difficult enough if she wasn’t female, but having never held public office or been in any role of political leadership it’s impossible. Of course, one could argue she has business leadership experience, like Donald Trump, except. . .

Her Business Experience Doesn’t Count

There is an old adage that a woman has to be twice as good in the workplace to get half the credit a man would for the same performance. I don’t know how true this is in general (probably way more true than it should be), but know that it applies to Carly Fiorina. She is applying for the top job in the country, and asking for the support of a political party that caters primarily to white men. She was removed from her position as CEO of Hewlett Packard, and while a case can be made (and she is trying to make it) that her removal was because of disagreements with the board about her strategic decisions–decisions that it can be argued proved to be the right choices–ultimately, the short version is she got fired. That’s all the average primary voter is going to know about her business career. I am not going to weigh in either way; I see merit in both sides of the argument but politically, it is irrelevant. She was removed from her position. Donald Trump has his name on buildings. Carly Fiorina’s name was scraped off the glass of her office door by a janitor.

They Are Treating Her Like A Token

The September 16th debate will consist of 11 candidates instead of 10. Even though the polls they were ostensibly using to determine eligibility have her at 11th, they decided to expand the field so she could be included and make the announcement before the September 10th cutoff that was supposed to be when the lineup was officially secured. In short, they are making room for Fiorina because she is a woman. It’s blatantly obvious this is what they are doing. Currently her polling is at 2.1 percent of the Republican vote; the 10th place member of the panel is Kasich, at 3.3 percent. Rick Perry is only a 10th of a point behind her, at 2 percent. In short, the distance between her and Kasich is over a percentage point and the distance between her and Perry is a tenth of a percent–but they expanded the field for her, not Perry. If we’re being blunt and honest, it is clear this is to let the lady onto the debate floor for optics, not because she earned her place according to the prescribed rules and established criteria. This will not go unnoticed by GOP voters, and it isn’t doing her any favors. My prediction is that post-debate reactions will compliment her performance and appreciate the fact that the GOP is not waging a war on women, but then they will vote for someone who didn’t get on the debate stage because of political correctness or affirmative action. Unless she pulls off a flawless and significantly noteworthy debate performance, including her will hurt her more than it will help her.

All That Said, She Has Some Strengths:

For Carly Fiorina to pull off said noteworthy and flawless debate performance, she needs to stick with what she’s been doing so far: Speaking with confidence and an air of knowledge on subjects she is utterly clueless about. She takes the party line on just about every issue.

Climate Change

“Well I think we have to read all the fine print. Because all the scientists who tell us climate change is real and being caused by human activity, also tell us that a single nation, acting alone, can make no difference at all.” Interview with Katie Couric

This is ridiculous, but clever. No scientists have said a single nation can make no difference at all, it’s a preposterous assertion. Of course a single nation makes a difference. If there are a hundred people clubbing baby seals and they average 20 baby seals a day each, one person deciding to stop clubbing baby seals is a difference of 20 dead baby seals per day. Yes, there are still 1,980 dead baby seals per day but it’s not 2,000. Plus, in this metaphor the U.S. clubs 800 of the 2,000 baby seals, so reducing our baby seal count actually would have a significant impact. If we can convince China and India to join us by our example, we could materially and appreciably reduce the clubbed baby seal count. I think I’ve flogged this metaphor to death. Which I just realized was also a poor choice of words.

Still, this is a strength in the Republican primary because they don’t like climate change and she sounds like she knows what she’s talking about, even though she doesn’t. She’s never made an accurate statement about climate change.


The night of the Benghazi attacks, we now know that the State Department and the White House knew that this was a purposeful, preplanned terrorist attack. . . .Several days later, she said the same thing over the bodies of the fallen. What she should have said was that this was a purposeful terrorist attack and we will seek retribution.” — Chuck Todd Interview

This is a great line, it works Republican outrage over the tragedy in Benghazi, attacks Clinton’s credibility, and promises more blowing people up with our military might. this will go over well with Republican voters. It’s a complete oversimplification of what actually happened, but who cares, details are for news geeks.


“Because life is an important issue that we shouldn’t be afraid to talk about. Like I said at that March for Life event, science is on our side. It shows that unborn babies feel pain and dream at five months and that the DNA on the day that we die is the same DNA we had as a zygote. Every human life is precious and has potential.”  — Interview with the Christian Post

Again, totally inaccurate, science is not with her on this at all, but it will play well with Republican voters. There is evidence that a fetus experiences REM sleep at 7 months, and speculation that this suggests dream states–but nobody really knows, because we don’t have dreamometers that can actually tell us if a person is dreaming and to date, nobody has ever interviewed a fetus following one of these apparent REM states to determine whether it was dreaming or having a nightmare about the taco plate mom finished at dinner and followed with a cup of pickle juice, coming up the umbilical.

Iran and Israel

“On day one in the Oval Office I will make two phone calls. The first one would be to my friend Bibi Netanyahu to assure him we will stand with the state of Israel. The second will be to the supreme leader of Iran. He might not take my phone call. But he would get my message. And the message is this: Until you open every nuclear facility and every military facility to full, open, anytime, anywhere inspections — for real — we are going to make it as difficult as possible for you to move money around the global financial system.”August 6th Presidential Debate

She, like every other Republican candidate, has not read the Iran deal, has no idea what it entails, and is simply following a knee-jerk reaction that it must be bad because Obama made it. Still, in the primary, this will be a strength. What is impressive is how, like all of her other bad positions, she states it with such authority, like she knows what the hell she’s talking about when she’s really just winging it. Also, name checking Benjamin Netanyahu this early in the race is whipping the horse on the first turn. Unless you’re getting pressed from the inside by someone making a run, you want to hold off until the backstretch before you start dropping your Israel cred. Even then, I’d hold off until the head of the stretch to see how it plays out with the press and public before deciding how to work that into the conversation, because at this point it seems like she’s throwing this card in too early.


And So On. . .

The list goes on. I could cover every single issue of her platform, but suffice in to say that she’s objectively, factually wrong about almost everything, yet has a direct, strong delivery, and can present the most blatantly false statement like she’s an expert in the field she knows nothing about. Where Donald Trump comes across like a used car salesman, Fiorina comes across like a serious and informed candidate–even though she is neither. It’s actually kind of sad then, that Trump is getting so much traction and she will be cast aside within the first few primary votes. While I find her positions to be empty and inaccurate, she at least delivers them well and if she was a male candidate would likely be the GOP front-runner right now.

If only she had a penis. . .

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