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Trump Says Listening to Her Gives Him Headaches, But Is Carly Fiorina For Real?

Last updated on July 17th, 2023 at 06:09 pm


It is noteworthy that of all the candidates present at the GOP Debate(s), the 10+6, Fox News chose failed HP executive Carly Fiorina as the winner of the first group of six. Fox News wasn’t alone: The Washington Post‘s Chris Cillizza wrote “Carly Fiorina won the ‘Happy Hour’ debate. By a lot.”

Fiorina is sort of like Sarah Palin in reverse. Palin quit partway through her term as Governor of Alaska. Fiorina was fired partway through her tenure as CEO by Hewlett-Packard – the first CEO the company ever fired.

Yet Fox News co-moderate Chris Wallace saw something in her HP could not find: “There’s kind of a sharpness and an intelligence about her and a preciseness, precision of her message that really cuts through.” George F. Will, not known for the sharpness or accuracy of his own analysis, told Wallace that Fiorina “stood out.”

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Of course, look who she was on stage with: 1) she was the only woman up there; and 2) a peeled banana would look sharper than Rick Santorum or Rick Perry.

Fiorina was like a big a shark in a small bowl full of guppies.

It should be stated that Wallace was already a Fiorina fanboy, announcing in June on Fox News Radio’s Kilmeade & Friends that “I think she’s smart and very capable and comes from a different background than all the politicians.” He was effusive enough on that occasion that its doubtful he would have criticized her post-debate regardless.

Charles Krauthammer, whom Trump loathes, announced on Special Report with Bret Baier that, “She won the debate. She won it going away.” Alan Colmes and Todd Starnes also both tweeted their approval of Fiorina’s debate performance.

Donald Trump, the guy who never attacks any of his opponents, just ask him, disagreed of course, tweeting her headache-causing presence:

No doubt she did not help her cause by tweeting, “Mr. Trump: There. Is. No. Excuse” and “I stand with @megynkelly.”

You wonder if she’d had the sense to “stand with @realDonaldTrump” he would have found her less headache-inducing.

These are kinder words than he had for Erick Erickson, whom he accused in another tweet of being “a major sleaze and buffoon.”

Trump is no doubt correct about Erickson, if you look at the Red State owner’s own track record, but Trump hardly has any high ground to stand on.

Trump complained the Fox News moderators did not give him a chance to shine on the economy at the GOP Debate, but if he has such a great message to share, why does he not do so on Twitter, instead of calling everybody names?

As for Fiorina, Media Matters had reported back in early June that the debate would create a fundraising opportunity for her, and in fact, it did. Fox News reported yesterday that, Fiorina’s “breakout performance has sparked an ‘uptick’ in financial support.”

Dan Gainor, writing at Fox News Opinion, credited Fiorina with a “Katniss Everdeen performance.” And the discredited former HP executive seems to feel like a Hunger Games victor. The energized Fiorina told Fox News Sunday, “The truth is the race has just started. It’s game on.”

The real question is, why Fiorina? Krauthammer says her message is the reason: she pits this election as conservatism vs. liberalism rather than the people vs. Washington and he says that’s very Reagan of her.

Is that what this election is about? Sifting through the dregs to find a new Reagan? Does Fiorina also want to raise taxes 11 times and grow the federal government like Ronald Reagan?

Actually, the debate helped the second-tier Fiorina lift herself above Fox News and Koch Brothers favorite, Scott Walker. An NBC News Online Poll after the debate showed her rising nearly to double digits:

Trump 23%
Cruz 13%
Carson 11%
Fiorina 8%
Rubio 8%
Bush 7%
Walker 7%

The same poll, agreeing with Fox News, said Fiorina won the debate – BOTH debates, 22 percent to Trump’s 18 percent. Rubio and Cruz came in at 13 and 12 percent respectively. In a way, coming out of nowhere, she did win the Hunger Games.

It would be difficult at this point to relegate her to an earlier, less-important debate again. She belongs now with the big boys. In other words, Fiorina’s is not just a manufactured (by Fox News) victory. She earned it by being the only intelligent-sounding person on stage. And that isn’t to exclude the men at the second debate.

None of this is to praise Carly Fiorina. Like every other GOP candidate in 2016 she is an empty vessel, full of talking points and little else. But these Republicans must be judged within the context of their party, which has willfully set itself apart from the context of our shared reality, that is, the fact-based universe.

And in that limited context, yes, Carly Fiorina seems to be for real. It was no small feat rising in the polls while dining at the Kiddie Table with nobody watching. At the very least, she has proven that, in conservative eyes at least, she deserves to be rated with Donald Trump and Jeb Bush.

In fact, Megyn Kelly may have been right – again, considering the context – to say, before the second debate began, “It’s a good thing Carly Fiorina isn’t here,. She unleashed a can earlier tonight.”

And perhaps Trump’s dismissive tweet is a sign that in his insecurity, he realizes Fiorina has much more than the zero chance with which he credits her.

Dan Gainor concluded of the debate that, “Ultimately, liberals were unhappy, which means the GOP did something right.” Well, liberals were unhappy at the continued stupidity of GOP candidates for president. So I guess Gainor takes that to mean the GOP should go right on being stupid.

Play to your strengths, GOP.

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