Patterico's Pontifications


Is Carly Fiorina Dumb As A Post? Seems So.

Filed under: 2008 Election,General,Government,Politics — WLS @ 2:50 pm

[Posted by WLS]

How else do you explain this from Politico:

McCain supporter Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett Packard, seemed to veer off message for a moment on the McGraw Milhaven show on KTRS radio in St Louis, when she made the case that Sarah Palin may be qualified to run America — but certainly not to run her old company.

“Do you think she has the experience to run a major company like Hewlett Packard?” the host asked Fiorina.

“No, I don’t,” she replied. “But that’s not what she’s running for. Running a corporation is a different set of things.”

She then went back on the attack on Obama’s experience. (She probably wouldn’t want him running HP either.)

First — as a surrogate of a political campaign, how could you ever let that answer escape your lips?   Was she completely oblivious to how it would be portrayed? 

Next — message to the executive suites in corporate America — you got where you are mostly on the back of undergrad and grad school connections.  What you do isn’t rocket science.  A Fortune 500 CEO is wildly overpaid for what they really add to the bottom line of a balance sheet by their “talent.”  What you really bring to the job is your Rolodex of well-heeled investors and customers — especially those customers who run other Fortune 500 companies.

You’re like Hollywood actors — you live in a closed loop environment where you hear echoes of your own voice and think it’s the world agreeing with you.

The secret to sound executive management — as well as function in high political office — is the ability to MANAGE PEOPLE.  An effective CEO need do no more than make sure the right people are in the right places so that the business functions efficiently. 

A CEO Of HP doesn’t need to know the mechanics of how every printer cartridge and MRI scanner worked (Agilent made them as a division of HP before Fiorina spun it off).

In the same manner, the President of the U.S. doesn’t need to know exactly how Medicare reimbursements for resident training at teaching hospitals, nor how the competing bids from Boeing and Airbus on the Air Force tanker project fell short of the program specifications.  

It’s funny how GE didn’t fall into bankruptcy once Jack Welch retired. 

Maybe GE’s business success wasn’t all about Jack Welch.

Yep, I venture there are a lot of people not running Fortune 500 firms who could have run HP just as well as Fiorina – maybe even the governor of a state with a public work force of 23,000 and a $10 billion budget.


UPDATE BY PATTERICO: Fiorina clarifies that she doesn’t think Obama, Biden, or McCain could do the job either.


  1. Carly lacks the experience necessary to be a campaign advisor.

    Comment by Attila (Pillage Idiot) (cb5f32) — 9/16/2008 @ 2:56 pm

  2. hmmmmm……..maybe Romney might have been a better choice, he could at least run the Olympics. Does that qualify?

    Comment by Oiram (983921) — 9/16/2008 @ 2:57 pm

  3. Neither as dumb as a post nor likely to lose control of her tongue; she was able to convince HP’s board to pay her millions while destroying their corporate culture (whether either of those were good or bad is not the issue.)

    Comment by htom (412a17) — 9/16/2008 @ 2:58 pm

  4. Palin is a MUCH better speaker than Fiorina showed herself to be at the convention.

    And, as a shareholder in that company Fiorina used to run, I was happy to see her go.

    I’d say Fiorina’s skill are more in line with getting lots of Federal money to spend on pet projects… she should run for the Senate.

    Comment by Dan S (636f73) — 9/16/2008 @ 3:01 pm

  5. Carly was an affirmative action hire that didn’t turn out so well.

    Comment by Perfect Sense (9d1b08) — 9/16/2008 @ 3:06 pm

  6. No, she is not dumb.

    It is just that she has an indefensible position to defend.

    Comment by jharp (f4bed7) — 9/16/2008 @ 3:10 pm

  7. WLS,

    I just heard the entire comment. She doesn’t say what you think she said. They cut her off in mid-sentence.

    Comment by Ody (dbcbc0) — 9/16/2008 @ 3:13 pm

  8. Actually, Fiorina is correct. Most politicians, make mediocre or worse CEO’s. Most CEO’s are terrible politicians (see Hoover)–Bloomberg is an outlier, and Romney I think proved the point.

    The skill set for a CEO is making decisions in a hierarchichal organization. Presidents don’t have nearly the power over the government that a CEO has over a company.

    Palin would never be appointed a CEO over a tech company, and that’s fine; neither should either of the Bushes, Clinton, or Reagan ever occupy or have occupied that post (the current Bush again proving the point). Similarly, who would want Steve Jobs, Bill Gates or Larry Ellison as president of the US? Correct answer: no sane person.

    Comment by Cyrus Sanai (4df861) — 9/16/2008 @ 3:13 pm

  9. What you really bring to the job is your Rolodex of well-heeled investors and customers — especially those customers who run other Fortune 500 companies.

    You’re like Hollywood actors — you live in a closed loop environment where you hear echos of your own voice and think it’s the world agreeing with you.

    WLS – Disagree with the above. It depends on the industry whether they rely on celebrity type CEOs. Companies certainly don’t need them in most cases and if they have them they tend to be overpaid. Good CEOs don’t want a closed loop environment as you describe it of people agreeing with them. My rule of thumb is when the CEO writes an autobiography, his ego has obviously grown too large, run for the hills, trouble is coming.

    Comment by daleyrocks (d9ec17) — 9/16/2008 @ 3:13 pm

  10. After finding that the new CEO of our Fortune 50 Company (a corporate politician who had risen through the ranks–but mainly in the HR department) didn’t have a clue as to what he wanted to do once he got the top spot–he promptly ran the company into the ditch. We were taken over; and he got a $30 million parachute. As an employee of the company (white male and over 50) it hurt a little bit when the takeover boys booted all of us in that class out the door.

    But as a shareholder of the company, $30 million was a cheap price to pay to get that CEO out the door.

    CEO’s don’t walk on water; in fact they can get their shoes wet just stepping into a gutter.

    Comment by Mike Myers (31af82) — 9/16/2008 @ 3:13 pm

  11. “They cut her off in mid-sentence.”

    Hey, is this the immortal Ody of Cathy’s World fame? Dude, welcome back!

    Comment by Dmac (e639cc) — 9/16/2008 @ 3:18 pm

  12. I think there is a difference in saying that a bad CEO can cost a company a huge amount on its bottom line and a good CEO can add a huge amount on its bottom line.

    The former is certainly true — lots of solid companies have been driven into the ditch by bad CEOs.

    But the CEO doesn’t, IMO, ADD money to the bottom line beyond the margins. The products and performance of the workforce are the biggest factors in profitability.

    Comment by WLS (26b1e5) — 9/16/2008 @ 3:20 pm

  13. I don’t know exactly what Fiorina said on the McGraw Milhaven show. When asked the same question by Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC, with reference to the comments made on the McGraw Milhaven show, Fiorina clearly said that each candidate could not run a major corporation. In addition, Fiorina made it clear that, typically, a top corporate executive could not be a top executive of a government. (In my opinion she may be overstating the case at least in one direction. And, of course, some top corporate executives can’t run a company.) On Fox News Special Report, they say that the Obama capaign’s web site links to an edited video of Fiorina’s answer.

    Comment by Ira (28a423) — 9/16/2008 @ 3:21 pm

  14. Top Corporate Exec’s running Government….

    Well, let’s look to history as to how this has worked:
    There once was a GM CEO who said: “What’s good for General Motors, is good for the USA.” He was not a particularly successful SecDef under Ike;

    There was the popularly acclaimed Ford CEO who went on to oversee the debacle known as the VietNam War while SecDef for JFK & LBJ;

    I’m sure that we could come up with other examples in other Dept’s of the Fed Leviathan that were not exactly stellar profiles in leadership. Two different animals requiring two different types of leaders.

    Just one observers recollections.

    Comment by Another Drew (1b62fd) — 9/16/2008 @ 3:31 pm

  15. This will be another You Tube war but I tend to agree with her. Cheney may be an exception although the company that he was running, Halliburton, was doing business in an atmosphere more like government. I’m sure his rolodex helped, too. I remember Truman’s gibe at Eisenhower, saying that he wondered what Ike would do when he gave an order and nobody obeyed. Government is very different. Certainly, Obama would not be qualified to run anything.

    Comment by Mike K (6d4fc3) — 9/16/2008 @ 3:33 pm

  16. Carly is arguably not qualified to run H/P either.

    Why didn’t Carly turn that around and say Obama has less experience executively than Palin, so in comparing the two at least Palin has some high end management experience (the State of Alaska probably has as many employees as HP or is at least comparable). The biggest office Obama has run (beyond his campaign for the last year)–his Senate staff. Even almost all his campaign operations are delegated to others–since he has to focus on apperances and speeches.

    Jeez Louise.

    Comment by Joe (dcebbd) — 9/16/2008 @ 3:52 pm

  17. What Carly forgot to say was that she too could not run a large corporation.

    What a bonehead.

    Comment by Dr. Dean (695f35) — 9/16/2008 @ 3:53 pm

  18. # 8 above. Agree. I saw her later in the day with complete context and she was attempting a simple point…that the skill sets for each was different.
    But as usual the media excludes the rest of the story and ignores the question asked and the complete response.

    Comment by Jimzinsocal (52b843) — 9/16/2008 @ 3:56 pm

  19. “But the CEO doesn’t, IMO, ADD money to the bottom line beyond the margins. The products and performance of the workforce are the biggest factors in profitability.”

    WLS – In a steady as she goes environment the above may be true. In an environment where the CEO decides to reorient a significant portion of the corporation’s business away from mature markets, etc., I completely disagree.

    It seems you have a very low opinion of corporate CEOs from the tone of you post and comments, based on what, I am not sure. I think most are grossly overpaid, but that is the fault of compliant boards, not the individuals themselves.

    Comment by daleyrocks (d9ec17) — 9/16/2008 @ 4:04 pm

  20. Sure, it was a silly thing for a campaign spokesman to say. But, fact is, she spoke the truth. None of the candidates have the specific experience to be CEO of a company like HP. Especially Baracky.

    Comment by JD (5f0e11) — 9/16/2008 @ 4:04 pm

  21. “…you got where you are mostly on the back of undergrad and grad school connections…What you really bring to the job is your Rolodex of well-heeled investors and customers — especially those customers who run other Fortune 500 companies.”…WLS

    Darn well and truly said, WLS.

    Comment by C. Norris (e22164) — 9/16/2008 @ 4:06 pm

  22. By doubting the substantialty of Carly Fiorina, she would like to let you know that you are all sexist!

    I think she needs some time off – she’s not having a good week.

    Comment by Bob Loblaw (6d485c) — 9/16/2008 @ 4:14 pm

  23. “Do you think she has the experience to run a major company like Hewlett Packard?” the host asked Fiorina.

    If I remember correctly, Fiorina had bit off more than she could chew with the merger of HP and Compaq Computer when Fiorina was CEO of the former. Quite frankly, I was surprised to see her appear in the McCain campaign organization. Fiorina could be as much a debit to the campaign as Palin is a credit.

    Comment by C. Norris (e22164) — 9/16/2008 @ 4:15 pm

  24. But the CEO doesn’t, IMO, ADD money to the bottom line beyond the margins. The products and performance of the workforce are the biggest factors in profitability.

    I submit that Steve Jobs is the exception to this assertion. Apple makes good products, and their employees work very hard (as a former Apple employee I will attest to this), but Jobs adds the sizzle, excitement, and product selection that makes Apple a better company with him than it might be after he leaves – despite the products.

    Comment by Horatio (783c7d) — 9/16/2008 @ 4:18 pm

  25. S FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — Hewlett-Packard Co. on Monday said it would cut 24,600 jobs and take a fourth-quarter charge of almost $2 billion as part of its recent acquisition of IT services giant Electronic Data Systems.
    In a written statement, H-P (HPQ:Hewlett-Packard Co.
    said the job cuts amount to about 7.5% of the combined company’s workforce of 320,000. As of August, H-P had 178,000 employees and EDS had a workforce of 142,000.

    Comment by Hazy (c36902) — 9/16/2008 @ 4:18 pm

  26. DaleyRocks — just once I’d like a CEO to say

    “You know, this company paid me $20 million last year in salary and bonues. I worked about 3000 hours during that timeperiod, meaning my pay rate was $6,667 an hour. Frankly, I don’t think my effort was worth that much. I made some big decisions, some worked out better than others, but no balance we had a very profitable year. But its because our work force is efficient and makes good products which makes it easy for our sales force to rack up sales. I didn’t design the product, I wasn’t on the line manufacturing the product, and I wasn’t on the telephone/road trying to sell the product. Let’s fairly compensate me for the value of my contribution to our success.”

    Comment by WLS (26b1e5) — 9/16/2008 @ 4:19 pm

  27. “you got where you are mostly on the back of undergrad and grad school connections. What you really bring to the job is your Rolodex of well-heeled [or family political connections].

    The same is true of US Senators and Presidents.

    Comment by C. Norris (e22164) — 9/16/2008 @ 4:21 pm

  28. Meg Whitman is an example of a CEO who added a huge share to the company bottom line and is a self-made billionaire on her own merits (stock options). Maybe she should be doing more appearances and let Carly lick envelopes at headquarters.

    Comment by Mike K (6d4fc3) — 9/16/2008 @ 4:22 pm

  29. WLS – Every year people put out rankings of companies that got the most bang for their buck for top executive compensation and lowest paid CEOs. I used to see the studies on Bloomberg but I forget who did the actual work. Dig around if you’re curious on the subject. Not everyone games the system.

    Comment by daleyrocks (d9ec17) — 9/16/2008 @ 4:29 pm

  30. Carly is and has been for years a disaster.

    Why she is still where she is, is a puzzle.

    (Bitter? You bet. I had a good thing going, administering and recommending HP systems when she began to shit on the marq. I am now unemployed and unemployably old.)

    Comment by Larry Sheldon (86b2e1) — 9/16/2008 @ 4:32 pm

  31. Fox showed the whole clip, not the small portion that scum like Andrew Sullivan have been highlighting. In full, she said that none of the four candidates, not Obama, not McCain, not Palin and not Biden were up to running that corporation as the differences between running a large corporate enterprise were miles different than a large governmental institution. One might quarrel with that conclusion, but the point once again is how the Dems can continually get away with misleading and/or outright lies.

    Comment by John Kole (d671ab) — 9/16/2008 @ 4:38 pm

  32. I just listened to the audio of Fiorina’s remark and discovered why Palin is on her way to the VP’s Mansion and Fiorina is not. Fiorina could not give a considered remark, only a tart one. Many women of position, and I have worked with a few, have this communication problem. The answer does not need to be immediate and pithy sounding, but accurate without providing ammunition for the follow-up.

    The correct answer was the end of Fiorina’s sentence: “…that’s not what she’s running for..”. Fiorina’s beginning by needlessly saying: “..“No, I don’t,”..” says more about Fiorina than it does Palin and also why Fiorina had to leave HP.

    Comment by C. Norris (e22164) — 9/16/2008 @ 4:41 pm

  33. 31 above. Exactly

    Comment by Jimzinsocal (52b843) — 9/16/2008 @ 4:53 pm

  34. It’s bad enough when you have to counter the oppositions distortions.
    I think we all see why Fiorina isn’t capable to run a corp or a government or a lemonade stand for that matter.
    How many people has Barack kicked under the bus?
    Time for the straight talk express to pull over to the curb and dump a liability.
    Maybe that would be too harsh. It would make her into an instant feature on hardball. Get her a co host chair.
    Maybe McCain could have Fiorina be the point woman in charge of the Provo Utah office for the remainder of the season.
    Yup, that’s what I’d do.

    Comment by papertiger (e9a2a0) — 9/16/2008 @ 5:37 pm

  35. Comment by WLS — 9/16/2008 @ 4:19 pm…

    The one significant job of the CEO that you ignored is the growth in value of the stock for the stockholders.
    That is a major portion of executive compensation – as a trigger, and as to the compensation itself (options).

    Why else is Warren Buffett so highly thought of.
    Berkshire-Hathaway has never IIRC paid a dividend;
    so, the only reason to hold that stock is for the appreciation.
    That is what WB does.

    Comment by Another Drew (1b62fd) — 9/16/2008 @ 5:58 pm

  36. Hmmm…Carly gets excoriated for telling the truth, no matter what her affiliation…and WLS continues being a “fuck the truth, Obama must lose!” shill. Why did this warrant a blog post? We already know that WLS is as far as being a true and honest conservative as one can be.

    Comment by Shodo (dbfcb4) — 9/16/2008 @ 6:52 pm

  37. Sho’nuff just got out of the bar, apparently. Boilermakers don’t help with cognitive function, as is evident.

    Comment by Dmac (e639cc) — 9/16/2008 @ 8:07 pm

  38. Mike K. @28 said it for me. Less Carly, more Meg!

    And like Dmac, I wonder, who was that Ody?

    Comment by Bradley J. Fikes (0ea407) — 9/16/2008 @ 8:18 pm

  39. Dam. I gotta give you guys credit. You are very much in touch with what ain’t gonna sell.

    I suspect you’re getting some inside info as I cannot believe you could possibly realize this on you’r own.

    And by the way, how’s the “lipstick on a pig” as an alleged “macaca moment” sales pitch going?

    Seems to me you were all over that and then dropped it like a hot potato.

    McCain reportedly ‘furious’ with Fiorina, campaign adviser says she will ‘disappear’ from TV.

    Today, McCain economic adviser Carly Fiorina bluntly stated that neither John McCain nor Sarah Palin were capable of running a major corporation… A top campaign adviser said Fiorina will be punished for her candid sentiments:

    “Carly will now disappear,” this source said. “Senator McCain was furious.” Asked to define “disappear,” this source said, adding that she would be off TV for a while – but remain at the Republican National Committee and keep her role as head of the party’s joint fundraising committee with the McCain campaign.

    Fiorina was booked for several TV interviews over the next few days, including one on CNN. Those interviews have been canceled.

    Comment by jharp (f4bed7) — 9/16/2008 @ 8:18 pm

  40. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA ! (Falls off chair) AAAAAHHHHH!

    Comment by love2008 (1b037c) — 9/16/2008 @ 8:25 pm

  41. Nothing is more believable than ThinkProgress citing an anonymous source. Can you say “Astroturf”? How about “lying pieces of shit”?

    Comment by nk (189a81) — 9/16/2008 @ 8:39 pm

  42. A highly-placed Obama campaign advisor told me that Obama relieves the tensions of the campaign at the end of the day by having sex with goats. The source refused tos say whether it was male or female goats.

    Comment by nk (189a81) — 9/16/2008 @ 8:42 pm

  43. That’s nothing nk, a highly placed source in the Obama campaign told me that Michelle Obama plays Lucky Pierre with Rev. Jeremiah Wright (when he’s in town) and Father Pfleger when Barack’s away on the campaign trail.

    Comment by daleyrocks (d9ec17) — 9/16/2008 @ 8:52 pm

  44. #42
    Yeah because that “source” exists only in your perverted, twisted, sick mind. You have left your meds again nk! Go lie down before you hurt yourself with sharp objects.
    (And stop masturbating on she-goats. Not hot.)

    Comment by love2008 (1b037c) — 9/16/2008 @ 8:58 pm

  45. #42
    Yeah because that “source” exists only in your perverted, twisted, sick mind. You have left your meds again nk! Go lie down before you hurt yourself with sharp objects.
    (And stop masturbating on she-goats. Not hot.)

    Comment by love2008 — 9/16/2008 @ 8:58 pm

    That was my point with the ThinkProgress link jharp posted, moron. It’s all some bullshit ThinkProgress made up.

    Comment by nk (189a81) — 9/16/2008 @ 9:01 pm

  46. I love how everyone is now saying, well she was a terrible CEO and CEO’s make terrible politicians, and so on.

    Looks like Carly was just thrown under the bus.

    But hey as long as you guys can rationalize it in your heads, it ok right?

    Comment by mj (c39ebb) — 9/16/2008 @ 9:03 pm

  47. Comment #14:

    Unfortunately Charlie Wilson (1952) was quoted out of context (sounds familiar, doesn’t it?). What he actually said was along the lines of: “For many years I have thought that what is good for the country is good for general Motors and vice-versa.”

    Comment by Jay Stevens (7737df) — 9/16/2008 @ 9:04 pm

  48. #2 – Oiram

    Romney might have been a better choice, he could at least run the Olympics. Does that qualify?

    – You run your mouth thru your keyboard. Maybe you’re qualified.

    Comment by Icy Truth (b28aae) — 9/16/2008 @ 9:08 pm

  49. #46
    Just let McCain, himself make one off-message comment and watch how fast he too will be hurled under that “straight talk bus”. Suddenly being a CEO no longer constitutes some kind of experience.

    Comment by love2008 (1b037c) — 9/16/2008 @ 9:16 pm

  50. This may be the only time I’ve agreed with mj (#46), but it’s been disheartening to read so many comments that amount to throwing Carly Fiorina under the bus — all based on a bogus story! I also find myself (in a way) agreeing with love2008 (#40 -HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA ! (Falls off chair) AAAAAHHHHH!). I was sitting in the waiting room of a tire store this afternoon when the FOX News story showing the Obama camp’s deception first aired, at approximately the exact same time that WLS posted this thread. [Damn straight, I live in a city where the TV in a tire store waiting room is tuned to FOX News Channel! Libs don't fare well in local politics here.] :-)

    Have we not had discussions on how Politico has been skewing to the left? Sorry, WLS. I was one of your biggest defenders when “love” accused you of posting irrelevant stories in the past, but this time you’ve posted an irresponsible story. I wonder how many of the Carly bashers here would’ve said what they said if the headline had been “Obama Campaign Deliberately Takes Carly Fiorina’s Words Out Of Context”; hmm?

    Comment by Icy Truth (171310) — 9/16/2008 @ 9:39 pm

  51. Cmon NK, surely you can follow the bouncing ball: the ThinkProgress piece was linked to CNN.

    As an anonymous source, you can of course choose not to believe it. I guess we’ll see if she shows up over the next few days…

    Comment by Bob Loblaw (6d485c) — 9/16/2008 @ 9:42 pm

  52. Finally taking the pill Icy? One thing I can say for you; you say it as it is. Not many people I can say that for here. Keep up the good work buddy. And hey, why don’t you post something yourself? I would sure love to read your own posts here. Hey Patterico, watchathink? ;)

    Comment by love2008 (0c8c2c) — 9/16/2008 @ 9:52 pm

  53. I do not want to post threads here. I am quite content to comment on the threads that the regulars post. [I do have my own blog, but I intentionally don't link it to my screen name.] As for “taking the pill,” I meant it before when I defended WLS against your attacks; I really thought those previous posts were perfectly legit. OTOH, this is not the first thread here that has pissed me off. The most recent “al-Zawahiri might be dead” post made me see red, because I knew (okay, I didn’t know, but I highly suspected) that it would turn out to be false; but there you go — they can’t all be winners.

    Comment by Icy Truth (171310) — 9/16/2008 @ 10:13 pm

  54. Jay @ #47…
    Yes, I know Charley was misquoted, I was able to read the quote and misquote at the time it was made – a problem of being old. But, the misquote is the reality in the political world, and Charley was never able to fit into the DC culture because he was an exec who was used to making a decision and having the company bend to his will. Didn’t happen at DoD. Very rarely happens anywhere in government.

    Comment by Another Drew (1b62fd) — 9/16/2008 @ 11:00 pm

  55. once again we have another news story thats been twisted. carly, in fact, goes on to say that obama and biden are not capable of running a corporation either. if your gonna open your mouth report the facts. if your gonna comment on a blog, now the facts. seek out the whole interview at u tube, not the one that was edited. WLS MUST BE A DUMB AAS A POST IF HE/SHE THINKS WE ARE DUMB ENOUGH TO BUY INTO HIS/HER STUPIDITY!

    Comment by getty leigh (5c9d0d) — 9/16/2008 @ 11:19 pm

  56. Channeling Sam Kinison: Ahh! aahhh!!! aaaaahhhhhhh!!!!!

    Comment by Icy Truth (d50358) — 9/16/2008 @ 11:26 pm

  57. Pat, I know you’re not a big fan of Tbogg (I just love understatement), but I think even you would have to laugh at his headline on this post:

    Comment by Bob Loblaw (6d485c) — 9/17/2008 @ 1:11 pm

  58. tbogg at manbearpig is an idiot.

    Comment by JD (41e64f) — 9/17/2008 @ 1:14 pm

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