Why you should care
Because if America wants to be the Apple of world powers, it’s unlikely to hire the former head of HP.
Remember how The Hunger Games would honor its fallen tributes? In this occasional series, OZY predicts which presidential candidates will be the next to fall — whether they know it or not.
You’ve been in this spot before haven’t you, Mrs. Fiorina? The vultures are circling and the wolves are asking for your head. Shareholders and boards, voters and donors — it all starts to run together after a while. As a former CEO, you know that appearances, and headline figures, can make or break a leader. And things are not looking good for your campaign (which did not respond to our requests for comment). You have failed to qualify yet again for the main stage at tonight’s GOP debate, and in recent Iowa polls, you are about as popular as humidity in the Hawkeye State.
This can’t end well. But it will end soon.
It wasn’t long ago that you were the toast of late September. Thanks to some sharp, early debate performances, including cutting takedowns of both Planned Parenthood and the Donald, you soared to 15 percent in the polls and second place. You looked like the consummate Washington outsider, one with a shrewd business sense and a keen grasp of foreign policy who was more than capable of sparring with, and outshining, your bloviating male counterparts. You were also in possession of a true Horatio Alger story, even if the Cara Carleton Sneed version has a few asterisks. “It’s only in this country that you can go from being a secretary to the chief executive of the largest technology company in the world,” you told Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show.
Running for president after getting ousted by HP is kind of like auditioning for Star Wars after your local theater troupe has thrown you out for missing rehearsals.
It’s true, where else can the daughter of a prominent law-school dean drop out of law school, briefly work as a receptionist in a real estate office and then get married and move to Italy for a few years before giving business school a shot? But you proved a savvy businesswoman, rising through the ranks at AT&T before being named the first woman to run a Fortune 500 company when Hewlett-Packard named you as CEO in 1999.
Again, only in America is your story even possible; only here can a CEO receive a $68 million signing bonus and more than $100 million more in compensation to preside over 30,000 layoffs and plummeting stock before being forced to resign and then using that windfall, along with a $21 million golden parachute, to run for office. It would no doubt have made a very moving convention biopic.
Still, one has to admire your gumption: running for president of the United States after getting ousted by Hewlett-Packard is kind of like auditioning for Star Wars after your local theater troupe has thrown you out for missing rehearsals … a decade ago. And that gumption was on full display during one of your campaign’s finest moments: your powerful description of watching an undercover Planned Parenthood video with “a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.”
So what if numerous fact-checkers concluded that the video footage you described technically, as CNN put it, “did not exist”? In this crazy election cycle, your tragic flaw was not that your beefy whopper was called into question, but that you could not feed the media beast more of them and attract controversy as ably as your more outlandish competitors.
In short, whatever the reasons, I’m afraid things aren’t working out, Mrs. Fiorina, and we’ve decided to make a change. Now would be a good time to round up your things and clear out your campaign office. Don’t worry, you will be presented with a very attractive severance package — cable news, paid lectures, maybe even a VP nod. Don’t think of this as losing an election so much as not having to visit New Hampshire in February. Security will escort you from the premises.
Please go about your business and respect the privacy of the fallen Carly Fiorina of California.