In the wake of his crushing losses in five primaries on Tuesday, Sen. Ted Cruz (TP-Texas) made a bold attempt to divert the nation’s attention away from the incredible ass-whomping he had just received by naming failed businesswoman Carly Fiorina as his vice-presidential running mate. Cruz made an interesting choice in picking Fiorina who was soundly rejected by the Republican electorate in the early going. Fiorina failed to ignite her campaign and performed miserably in the contests in which she competed. Fiorina had less than 2%support in the Iowa caucuses, received 4% of the vote in New Hampshire with an 8th place finish, and was done. She won exactly zero (o) delegates. Fiorina kept proclaiming that her campaign “was not about me” – which in Red’s opinion is the clear sign that a campaign is indeed all about the candidate’s ego. Fiorina gave voters absolutely no reason to cast their ballot for her – not surprising when he main accomplishments were her record as a horribly failed CEO of Hewlitt-Packard and her losing Senatorial campaign in California. Her one claim to fame was a good performance in the “undercard” debate preceding Iowa which put her to prominence until the voters had the good sense to reject her as completely unqualified. So what attracted Ted to her. Cruz claim he was attracted to Fiorina as his running mate because she was “born in Texas…the very first thing I liked about her.” Interesting since that is something that the Canadian-born Cruz cannot say about himself. Cruz did succeed in turning the national press away from the Trump blow-out on Tuesday, but Red thinks this smacks of desperation and predicts the news cycle will move on in a day or two or at best until Cruz loses in Indiana.
Last night’s GOP debate in Las Vegas focused largely on issues of national security – not a surprise with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer at the helm.
Red’s favorite topic was when WB asked the estimable candidates about enforcing a No-Fly Zone in Syria and whether they would order a Russian plane shot down. As always, Red translates the responses for you.
Chris Christie – Hell yes, I would shoot down a Russian plane. I call Putin and tell him, “No flying, fuckhead.” And then when he ignores that we shoot. And unlike the other weenies on this stage, I would insist on shooting down the planes myself – you know because I was a tough ass New Jersey prosecutor. How does that work? Every time a Russian jet entered the NFZ, I would be on the line immediately, targeting that sucker, remotely pushing the button to launch the missile and then celebrating afterwards with a double-meat bacon cheeseburger. Fuck Yeah!
Rand Paul – If you want World War III, here’s your candidate. [Pointing to Christie] If you are not absolutely bat shit crazy – like most of the respected candidates on this stage – and would prefer a big wussy in the White House, look no further. I am the biggest wussy on this stage and proud of it.
Jeb!!!!????$ – I have called for the NFZ and I would shoot down a plane with my sainted mother in it if it was violating the NFZ. Sorry, Dad.
Donald Trump – I too would shoot down a plane with Jeb!!!!$$$$?’s mother in it. But I like Putin bombing the shit out of Syria. I back it 100%. I would back it 1000% if that were possible, and believe me percentages well in excess of 100 will be the norm when I am elected president. 100% will be old hat. No one will be talking about 100% when I am President. 500% will be the absolute minimum.
Ben Carson – We shoot down Russian planes absolutely. Then afterwards, I deal with the possibility of nuclear conflagration in my thoughtful, deliberate and respectful way as we descend into chaos and world war.
John Kasich – Why are you asking this question? Why am I even still here? Is Red spelling my name correctly?
Ted Cruz – After I finish carpet bombing Syria and explaining in excruciating detail why that is not a war crime, there will be no real need for a NFZ. In fact tourist groups will want to fly over Syria to see the glowing sand.
Carly Fiorina – I would insist on a NFZ and shoot down anything that flies. But I would not call Putin first – who by the way I talked with earlier today. Others on this stage talk about making America great again. But what is their plan? I have a plan. You know what would make this country great again – World War III. I promise you that we will have WWIII if I am elected president.
Marco Rubio – Thank god we are not talking about immigration.
While much of the media is focused on who won or lost, Red believes that, much like U6 Soccer, everyone who shows up deserves a participation award. So in no particular order, Red gives the following awards to the participants in last night’s GOP debate:
Jeb!!!!$$$$? – The Why am I Even Here and Not Already Been Proclaimed President Award
Ted Cruz – The Angriest Man Alive Award
John Kasich – The Hopelessly Rational Human Stuck in a Lunatic Asylum Award
Donald Trump – The “Fuck You” Money Award
Mike Huckabee – The Just Damn Glad to be Here and Insult Fat People Award
Ben Carson – The Smooth Jazz FM Radio Deejay Award
Chris Christie – The I Can’t Believe I’m Losing to These Guys Award
Carly Fiorina – The Sure I Was an Incompetent CEO but With Enough Lies People Will Forget Award
Marco Rubio – The Vote for Me Because I’m Not Yet Tired and Old Like Bush Award
Rand Paul – The Really, We Almost Forgot You Were There Award
GOP Debate Bingo Card from USA Today.
Unfortunately, the curtain literally came down – not figuratively and Fiorina’s campaign goes on. But fortunately no one was hurt and the candidate handled the situation with humor.
Carly Fiorina sole “qualification” for the high office to which she aspires is her supposedly successful business career. Fortune takes a closer look at CF’s tenure at HP and the results are not good. Fortune asks the simple question, How did she do?
The answer in short is: Pretty badly.
In 1999, a dysfunctional HP board committee, filled with its own poisoned politics, hired her with no CEO experience, nor interviews with the full board. Fired in 2005, after six years in office, several leading publications titled her one of the worst technology CEOs of all time. In fact, the stock popped 10% on the news of her firing and closed the day up 7%.
Arianna Packard, the granddaughter of HP’s founder, commented when discouraging voters from supporting Fiorina in her 2010 senatorial run, “I know a little bit about Carly Fiorina, having watched her almost destroy the company my grandfather founded.”
However, before Conservative Political Action Caucus in February, Fiorina proclaimed that under her HP command, “We would double its revenues to $90 billion, triple its rate of innovation to 11 patents a day, and go from a laggard to a leader in every product category and every market segment in which we competed.”
Sure, she doubled revenues—through a massive, ill-conceived, controversial acquisition of Compaq Computer in 2002. Fiorina did nothing to increase profits over her five-year term, with the S&P 500 showing net income across enterprises concomitantly up 70%. Furthermore, shareholder wealth at HP was sliced 52% under her reign against the S&P, which was down only 15% in that bearish period. She modeled the old joke of “making it up in the volume.”
Fiorina rammed the Compaq deal through despite intense opposition by analysts, employees, and shareholders. When it appeared that she would lose the proxy vote, the balance was tipped back the other way using hardball tactics that would make Donald Trump wince.
The lost shareholder wealth and lost strategic direction at HP are only part of Fiorina’s legacy. Also lost during her reign were 30,000 U.S. tech jobs, the company’s revered employee morale, and the egalitarian, humble HP way culture. A new defensive, finger-pointing style of leadership led to waves of firing. Dissent was equated with disloyalty as discovered by Walter Hewlett, a board member and son of HP’s co-founder, when he questioned Fiorina’s misguided Compaq acquisition strategy and refused to be bullied into a board statement of unanimous consent, suffering legal and personal threats.
Despite such carnage, Fiorina pocketed over $100 million in compensation for her short reign—including a $65 million signing bonus and a $21 million severance. I have studied comebacks from adversity, but she’s not shown the required contrition nor earned the needed exoneration, and she’s not served as a CEO since. Upon leaving Taiwan Semiconductor’s board, the firm disclosed she only attended 17% of the board meetings. Under Meg Whitman’s brilliant leadership, HP’s character and performance have recovered, but we have not seen Fiorina’s parallel resilience just yet.