Is Everything Carly Fiorina Says a Lie, Including “And” and “The”?

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Let me provide the spoiler at once: Not entirely.

Much of what Fiorina says is vacuous, and (as with all the Republican candidates) there is the occasional gem amidst the muck. But wowsers! Fiorina’s relationship to the truth is, at the very best, non-custodial. To come to this conclusion, I read Fiorina’s answers to questions in the recent Republican debate (transcript here). I apologize for not color-coding the text, but the length is so extreme, and in any case I want to focus not on rhetoric, but just the facts. So, I’m going to skip the answers I regard as vacuous, and focus only on the answers that contain outright falsehoods, which I will helpfully underline, and the rare cases of genuine insight.

This is a campaign of firsts: The first socialist Presidential candidate, the first woman Presidential candidate, the first billionaire[1] candidate, and, with Fiorina, the first corporate executive Presidential candidate. And each of these candidates has a different source for their personal authority or ethos: Sanders with genuine, long-held and consistent policy views, Clinton with smarts and [1] process expertise, Trump as the wealthy mass media personality, and now Fiorina as a toxic leader. (You think toxic leaders don’t gain authority through their very toxicity? Hmmm.)

In the Financial Times (“Leadership BS”) Dan Pfeffer, Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Graduate School of Business, Stanford University, comments on Fiorina as an executive:

[E]ven “people who have presided over catastrophes” suffer no negative consequences. On the contrary. Ms Fiorina, “who by any objective measure was a horrible CEO, is running for president on her business record. I love it! . . . You can’t make this stuff up — it’s too good!”

Yes, we laugh that we may not weep; I’ve often felt that way, even this early in the 2016 campaign. In CNN, Pfeffer (“Leadership 101”) comments on Fiorina’s toxicity:

Here are four things that anyone, running for president or not, can and should do:

Number one, tell your story. If you won’t, no one else will. By telling your story repeatedly [like Clinton and Trump, but not Sanders], you can construct your own narrative. …

Second, Fiorina [like Trump] has and is building a brand — a public presence. Recognizable brands have real economic value. … Running for president, even if unsuccessful, transforms people into public figures often widely sought on the speaking circuit, so in many ways, they win even if they lose.

Third, don’t worry about being liked — Fiorina doesn’t. … In that choice, Fiorina is following the wisdom of Machiavelli, who noted that while it was wonderful to be feared and loved, if you had to choose one, being feared was safer than being loved [like Trump and Clinton, but not Sanders. “Nobody hates Bernie,” as one insider commented.”]

The fourth lesson taken from watching Fiorina may be the most important. As we struggle with understanding what makes leaders “successful,” people frequently overlook the fact that success depends very much on how that term gets defined and measured. In business and in politics, the interests of leaders and their organizations don’t perfectly coincide. [Oddly, since Trump is a brand, his corporate and personal interests do coincide. And since the Clinton Foundation is a money-laundering influence-peddling operation, its interests and Clinton’s coincide as well. Sanders has no business interests.]

At Hewlett-Packard, Fiorina was well-known for not tolerating dissent or disagreement, particularly on important strategic issues. As someone quite senior in H-P’s strategy group told me, disagreeing with Fiorina in a meeting was a reasonably sure path out the door. By not brooking dissent, Fiorina ensured that few opponents would be around to challenge her power. But disagreement often surfaces different perspectives that result in better decisions. The famous business leader Alfred P. Sloan noted that if everyone was in agreement, the discussion should be postponed until people could ascertain the weaknesses in the proposed choice.

Fiorina has a pragmatic view of what it takes to be successful. And that’s one reason she should not be underestimated, regardless of the opinions about her career at H-P.[3]

The fourth point is especially toxic, and may show up — despite the current adulation — further along on the campaign trail. If Fiorina insists on surrounding herself with sycophants, and on making all the strategic decisions herself, will her Presidential campaign turn into the trainwreck (see under “demon sheep”) her Senate race did?[4]

To the transcript!

* * *

Fiorina’s life story:

FIORINA: Good evening. My story, from secretary to CEO, is only possible in this nation, and proves that everyone of us has potential. My husband, Frank, of 30 years, started out driving a tow truck for a family owned auto body shop.

Anybody listening to this might conclude that Fiorina rose from working class roots — especially with the borrowed cachet of a truck driving man for a husband — to CEO, and at H-P. But the impression Fiorina has created would be factually incorrect. Fiorina’s actual biography paints a different picture. Here’s her background and career path, from WikiPedia:

Fiorina’s father was a professor at the University of Texas School of Law. He would later become dean of Duke University School of Law, Deputy Attorney General, and judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Her mother was an abstract painter. [S]he was raised Episcopalian.

Oh. An Episcopalian secretary.

During her summers, she worked as a secretary for Kelly Services.[27] She attended the UCLA School of Law in 1976 but dropped out[28] after one semester and worked as a receptionist for six months at a real estate firm Marcus & Millichap, moving up to a broker position before leaving for Bologna, Italy, where she taught English.

So, speaking of bologna…

Fiorina received a Master of Business Administration in marketing from the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, College Park in 1980. She obtained a Master of Science in management at the MIT Sloan School of Management under the Sloan Fellows program in 1989.[30]

So that’s when Fiorina’s rise began; with degrees in marketing and management. Fiorina’s one of those MBAs you get called into a windowless conference room to hear how you’re going to lose your job because bullet points. That’s what she was trained to do, and that’s what she does.

* * *

On the empire:

FIORINA: Having met Vladimir Putin, I wouldn’t talk to him at all. We’ve talked way too much to him.

What I would do, immediately, is begin rebuilding the Sixth Fleet, I would begin rebuilding the missile defense program in Poland, I would conduct regular, aggressive military exercises in the Baltic states. I’d probably send a few thousand more troops into Germany. Vladimir Putin would get the message. …

Russia is a bad actor, but Vladimir Putin is someone we should not talk to, because the only way he will stop is to sense strength and resolve on the other side, and we have all of that within our control.

We could rebuild the Sixth Fleet. I will. We haven’t.

On the Sixth Fleet and imperial strategy generally, Ezra Klein comments:

The Sixth Fleet is already huge, and it’s hard to say why adding to its capabilities would intimidate Putin — after all, America has enough nuclear weapons pointed at Russia to level the country thousands of times over. Her proposal for more military exercises in the Baltics seemed odd in light of the fact that President Obama is already conducting military exercises in the Baltics. And the US already has around 40,000 troops stationed in Germany, so it’s hard to say what good “a few thousand” more would do. And pushing on a missile defense system in Poland is a very long-term solution to a very current problem. In total, Fiorina’s laundry list of proposals sure sounded like a plan, but on inspection, it’s hard to see why any of them would convince Putin to change course.

* * *

On abortion:

FIORINA: Dana, I would like to link these two issues, both of which are incredibly important, Iran and Planned Parenthood.

One has something to do with the defense of the security of this nation. The other has something to do with the defense of the character of this nation.

Let me briefly look at the rhetoric here, because Fiorina’s smooth, corporate bullet point-like effrontery in “linking” Planned Parenthood and Iraq is breathtaking. Because where is the link? Only in the very fact of Fiorina linking them, apparently, and the fact that — “at a high level,” as we say — they both could be said to concern “the nation.” Note the three-fold parallelism of “something to do” — whatever that means — and “the defense of” and “if this nation”; it’s as elegant as a PowerPoint template. But swap in different terms, and you can see Fiorina’s linking for the nonsense it is:

FIORINA: Dana, I would like to link these two issues, both of which are incredibly important, home insulation and churchgoing.

One has something to do with the defense of the heating of our homes. The other has something to do with the defense of the spirituality of our homes.

Back to the the transcript, and skipping the vacuous material on Iran:

FIORINA: As regards Planned Parenthood, anyone who has watched this videotape, I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama to watch these tapes. Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, it’s heart beating, it’s legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.

That’s quite a dare, since the tape doesn’t exist. The answer to this headline in the Dallas Morning News (!) — “Sharon Grigsby: Did Fiorina flat-out lie about abortion video?” — is Yes. The Wall Street Journal explains why Fiorina is factually incorrect:

But the image she described isn’t in any of the videos released by the antiabortion group. Instead, one video from the group depicts a former employee of a tissue procurement company stating what she says she saw at a Planned Parenthood clinic. There was never any video that depicted, as Ms. Fiorina stated.

So, at best, Fiorina “flat-out lied.” At worse, she’s making up a vivid picture in her mind, that she sincerely believes. Why is that the worse? Because if she insists on making all the strategic decisions herself, those decisions could be based on fantasy.

* * *

On immigration:

FIORINA: First let me say, We have just spent a good bit of time discussing, as Republicans, how to solve this problem. I would ask your audience at home to ask a very basic question. Why have Democrats not solved this problem?

President Obama campaigned in 2007 and 2008 on solving the immigration problem. He entered Washington with majorities in the House and the Senate. He could have chosen to do anything to solve this pro — this problem. Instead, he chose to do nothing.

Why? because the Democrats don’t want this issue solved.

I find myself in the odd position of both half-heartedly defending Obama and quoting Ezra Klein, but here goes:

Her immigration answer was also odd to anyone who knew the issue’s recent history. It’s true Obama didn’t immediately push immigration reform when he took office, but it was his top priority after reelection, and he spent a solid year trying to make the Senate’s comprehensive immigration-reform bill — the one crafted, in part, by Sen. Marco Rubio— into law. That legislation was stopped by Republicans in the House of Representatives, not by the Democrat in the White House. “Send me a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the next few months,” Obama begged in 2013, “and I will sign it right away.”

* * *

On marijuna:

FIORINA: I very much hope I am the only person on this stage who can say this, but I know there are millions of Americans out there who will say the same thing.

My husband Frank and I buried a child to drug addiction. So, we must invest more in the treatment of drugs.

I agree with Senator Paul. I agree with states’ rights. But we are misleading young people when we tell them that marijuana is just like having a beer. It’s not.

Now, anybody might think that marijuana had something to do with the death of Fiorina’s child. But the impression Fiorina has created would be factually incorrect:

Fiorina’s daughter Lori died in 2009 after “drinking too much in college,” the former HP CEO and current presidential candidate wrote in her recent biography. Her daughter, she wrote, followed up that drinking with years of abusing prescription drugs. …

Fiorina never mentions marijuana in her biography, whether in connection with Lori’s death or otherwise.

Back to the transcript:

FIORINA: We do need — we do need criminal justice reform. We have the highest incarceration rates in the world. Two-thirds of the people in our prisons are there for non-violent offenses, mostly drug related. It’s clearly not working.

Factually incorrect. Slate:

Though Fiorina was correct that the United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world—no other country comes close—the rest of her statement was false. In fact, when you look at the roughly 1.5 million people currently doing time in state and federal prisons, only about 300,000 of them are there primarily because of drug offenses, according to the most recent data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

* * *

I’m quoting this part as a gem. A carefully cut and polished gem, totally canned, but a gem nonetheless:

FIORINA: I think what this nation can be and must be is symbolized by Lady Liberty and Lady Justice. Lady Liberty stands tall and strong. She is clear-eyed and resolute. She doesn’t shield her eyes from the realities of the world, but she faces outward into the world nevertheless, as we always must.

And she holds her torch high, because she knows she is a beacon of hope in a very troubled world.

And Lady Justice, Lady Justice holds a sword by her side, because she is a fighter, a warrior for the values and the principles that have made this nation great. She holds a scale in her other hand. And with that scale she says all of us are equal in the eyes of God. And so all of us must be equal in the eyes of the law and the government, powerful and powerless alike.

And she wears a blindfold. And with that blindfold she is saying to us that it must be true, it can be true that in this country, in this century, it doesn’t matter who you are, it doesn’t matter what you look like, it doesn’t amatter how you start, it doesn’t matter your circumstances, here in this nation, every American’s life must be filled with the possibilities that come from their God-given gifts.

One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

The only problem… Is that what we’re hearing is “Leadership B.S.,” as peddled by a toxic leader. But it sounds wonderful! Lovely figures of speech, in “Lady Liberty and Lady Justice,” anaphora with “it doesn’t matter,” and all sorts of lovely repetions. (Fiorina’s funders have bought themselves a highly effective speechwriting team, at least. Although speechwriters don’t make strategic decisions.)

* * *


For all these strictures, Fiorina is doing very well in the polls, and at Carson and Trump’s expense. Klein sums up Fiorina’s appeal:

But if presidential campaigns were decided by fact checkers, Al Gore would have won in a landslide.[5] Fiorina is, for now, able to do what her competitors aren’t: command a stage, speak in specifics, project knowledge, and elicit roars from a crowd. She’s a political outsider in a campaign that favors outsiders, an orthodox conservative at a moment when Republicans are terrified of Donald Trump’s heterodoxies, and a woman in a year when most Republicans think Hillary Clinton’s main advantage is her gender. And she’s now won two debates against the most talented Republican field in a generation.[6]

Fiorina is going to be a force to be reckoned with, even if it’s going to leave fact checkers and policy analysts pulling their hair out.

Well, in this post I’ve focused on Fiorina and the facts. But if I weren’t sitting behind my keyboard, but at a campaign operatives desk, I’d consider framing Fiorina as a toxic leader who — like so many corporate executives these days — lives in a fantasy world. That would also have the great merit of being true. And many, many voters have experience of corporate leaders exactly like Fiorina, and it didn’t work out well for them.


[1] Putative.

[2] Putative.

[3] Here’s a WaPo fact check on Fiorina’s claims about her tenure at H-P: “Breathtakingly cherrypicked.”

[4] There might also be a question whether she can hire competent and loyal staff, given that she took five years to pay off the staffers for her 2010 Senate campaign.

[5] Oh, come on. And if Gore weren’t a lousy candidate, and hadn’t wussed out in Bush v. Gore, and hadn’t been hated by the press, he might have won the Presidency, in addition to winning the popular vote.

[6] Which is, or is not, saying something.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      She has a highly polished and impervious persona, much like Clinton, but I think the variety of B.S. is different. And Clinton’s personal network will be very different as well.

  1. susan the other

    It’s stand-up comedy. I think the word ‘impervious’ is too kind. Creative might be more accurate. I loved it more than I have a word to describe it when Trump said that just the sound of her voice gave him a massive headache. And somewhere in the disgusted reaction to her obvious lack of honesty, somebody just punted and called her a horseface. So when they asked her to choose a secret service name should she become president, she said “Secretariat.”

  2. barrisj

    Whole lot of verbiage expended on an ephemeral candidate…all these early-in-the-game flavour of the month “candidates” will get their “15min. of fame”, then claim their FoxNews gigs and book deals afterwards. Book it – Jeb! gets the nomination.

  3. Peter Pan

    My story, from secretary to CEO, is only possible in this nation, and proves that everyone of us has potential.

    Anybody listening to this might conclude that Fiorina rose from working class roots — especially with the borrowed cachet of a truck driving man for a husband — to CEO, and at H-P.

    This might be cringe worthy but my initial impression in reading the first sentence is that she was saying she slept her way to the top. But who would want to sleep with Secretariat? Well, other than that “posh c*nt” PM Cameron with his lust for animals.

    The Sixth Fleet is already huge, and it’s hard to say why adding to its capabilities would intimidate Putin — after all, America has enough nuclear weapons pointed at Russia to level the country thousands of times over.

    Hey, Ezra, Russia has the capability of making the rubble jump in the USA, too.

        1. Carlos

          It seems there is blowback from calling Obama a socialist. They have legitimised the term….. How delightfully ironic.

  4. optimader

    I read the wiki link on C F some time ago out of curiosity and , yeah that confirmed that she is a fake.

    I await an investigative journalist to do a little digging around the time she was injected into the Sloan MofS in Management BS program. It is one of those accelerated ” Executive Programs” which is code for her stepping onto the magic carpet coattail escalator of…someone… I wonder who?

    In many ways I think her resume was honed more in the fashion of Condi Rice rather than HRC.

      1. optimader

        Sloan school.. fruit of the poisoned tree..
        ….In the United States, automotive design reached a turning point in 1924 when the American national automobile market began reaching saturation. To maintain unit sales, General Motors head Alfred P. Sloan Jr. suggested annual model-year design changes to convince car owners that they needed to buy a new replacement each year, an idea borrowed from the bicycle industry, though the concept is often misattributed to Sloan.[4] Critics called his strategy “planned obsolescence”. Sloan preferred the term “dynamic obsolescence”. This strategy had far-reaching effects on the auto business, the field of product design, and eventually the American economy. The smaller players could not maintain the pace and expense of yearly re-styling. Henry Ford did not like the model-year change because he clung to an engineer’s notions of simplicity, economies of scale, and design integrity. GM surpassed Ford’s sales in 1931 and became the dominant company in the industry thereafter. The frequent design changes also made it necessary to use a body-on-frame rather than the lighter, but less flexible,[clarification needed] monocoque design used by most European automakers.

  5. Woodrow

    So we have two (2) horrible women candidates vying for President. All this means is the status quo remains in place no matter who wins, male or female. They are all deceivers.

  6. mark worden

    You missed a lot of 3rd party women & socialist candidate, most notabley Eugene V. Debs (!) who ran from prison & Norman Thomas (!), 6-time candidate.

  7. Oregoncharles

    ““Nobody hates Bernie,” as one insider commented.””

    That’s bad; means he’s far more of a temporizer than usually described. A man of principle would be soundly hated.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Bernie has no fellow travelers in the current Team Blue, and he provides cover for them as a liberal they know. If he had more fellow travelers, he would be a problem. The other issue is hate is usually reserved for strangers or the other. All these politicians are elected at one point because they are friendly enough. Take Merkel. She tried to comfort of the refugees she was trying to send back to apartheid state. Politicians are for the most part friendly and well-liked in person.

      New state legislators are always shocked to find the legislators from the other party aren’t drooling freaks when they meet them in person.

  8. RUKidding

    CF – the horror that won’t go away…

    CF loves to lie, and like most/all sociopaths, I guess she just starts believing her own lies, like the one about her daughter and marijuana. Not to mention how she ensured that HP sold printers and consumables to Iran when there was the embargo (or whatever it was), but is now so “concerned” about the Iran deal.

    I’ve owned shares in HP for decades, and HP was smoldering ruin after the reign of Empress Carly, who was sh*t-canned by HP heirs for her utterly suck-worthy performance & nearly complete devastation of a formerly great company. The trashing of HP followed her similar trashing of Lucent. For reasons which continue to elude me, people who identify with the GOP love to expound on CF’s mad bizness skillz. I’ve had a number of conversations that went to nowheresville attempting to figure out why these GOP voters see CF as a good business person. It has something to do with GOP voters agreeing with the Mitt RMoney, GW Bush, CF school of laying waste to good businesses, making off with the money (for themselves), while laying off 10s of thousands of hard working US citizens… and then excoriating said citizens for being lazy.


    CF is apparently doubling down on her claims about that video re the fetus brain thing. It is so disgusting, as absolutely NONE of that is remotely true. But like all sociopaths, she won’t back down and admit she’s lying and dead wrong.

    This will go on with the usual rightwing think tanks, pundits, media and liars supporting her. All I can do is hope that the demon sheep eventually vote her off the island. She is one horrible specimen, a lousy lazy entitled not-a-real-business-person, and utterly unsuited for the any government office, down to and including the proverbial dog catcher.

    Since she was FIRED from HP, what has this person actually DONE?? Other than run for US Senator from CA, where the voters FIRED her, too?

    I’m not fan of HRC, but HRC has been busy and working for these many years. I almost totally disagree with HRC’s foreign policy, but she has been *working* for years in gov’t. What has CF done? Shorter A: sweet eff all, except live off the fat of my HP investments. Bah humbug.

    Go away, CF, go far far away.

    1. MikeNY

      I also think there is something ‘off’ about CF. She reminds me of Dick Cheney, and he most certainly IS a sociopath.

  9. john c. halasz

    You should not just focus on her tenure at HP, but her prior gig at Lucent, which got her the HP appointment. She came up though marketing at AT&T, and when they spun of the old Western Electric division as an independent company, Lucent, she was made head of marketing there. This was during the tech bubble and for a while the company was a terrific success, with the initial stock price of $25 going to over $100 in short order. And so she made the jump to HP before the whole scam collapsed. It turned out Lucent was effectively vendor financing its sales to tech start ups:

  10. jgordon

    That’s all very interesting, but I don’t think potential competency or even honesty has much of an appeal for voters these days. I believe that who puts on the best show and lies the best will be president, and so in that respect it appears that Fiorina has pretty good odds of becoming president.

    Come on, if anyone actually bothered being honest with the American people by telling them that their standards of living would be dropping like a rock from here on out, that person isn’t going to get elected. So we have an option today of having a politician who has deluded herself into thinking that America is great and things can get better, or or a cynical liar who knows what’s going on just wants to loot all she can before the ship sinks. Even Bernie Sanders, who seems to be the least villainous of the lot, doesn’t seem to appreciate just how existentially awful of a predicament the American people are in. And if he does, he’s lying by omission.

    1. DJG

      CF seems to have a thoroughly WASP pedigree:

      Wikipedia: “Fiorina (then Cara Carleton Sneed) married Todd Bartlem, a Stanford classmate, in June 1977. They divorced in 1984.[284] In 1985, she married AT&T executive Frank Fiorina.”

      The surname Fiorina is Italian.

  11. cnchal

    . . . By not brooking dissent, Fiorina ensured that few opponents would be around to challenge her power.

    What is the personality disorder are we seeing here? P, S, N, or a blended combination for a full flavored display?

    The people that want to be politicians are the crazies. We should have a random draw or lottery to select politicians, they serve for a few years, and then a new group gets drawn. That way only a few crazies get through where now they are almost all self selecting crazies.

    1. jgordon

      That’s a real good idea. It’s exactly what we should do. But it has to be a selection of 100% of the population for anyone over 18/25/35 (whatever the age requirement for office happens to be). The system won’t be fair until we have ex-cons convicted of some bogus drug offense deciding drug laws.

      1. cnchal

        . . . it has to be a selection of 100%. Yes.

        It would stop political corruption in it’s tracks. The plutocrats wouldn’t know who to back.

    1. cnchal

      That was refreshing and depressing. Some very blunt sections, from an insider.

      WILKERSON: The first thing I’d say is, after you play the clips and so forth, I thought John Kasich also made some cogent comments about the budget. But I agree with you that other than the three we’ve just cited this was another freak show, as the Financial Times called the first debate. Only this one was a little longer and a little worse, maybe. To answer your question directly I think you have to start looking at the money. I would agree with you 100 percent that a lot of these people are not as educated, if you will, as their money would indicate. It’s not the equivalency that people think it is that brains go along with money. Entrepreneurship, creativity sometimes, good business skills and so forth, perhaps. Not even that, sometimes. But brains do not necessarily go along with money.

      But there is a group in this country who will put money behind anyone who looks like he’s going to maintain and even push more stridently than before the business of war, if you will. I’ve recently had a person at the highest levels of power in this land say to me, inside Washington there’s a bias toward war. That’s absolutely correct. Lots of people made a lot of money off the invasion of Iraq. Lots of people made a lot of money off Afghanistan. Lots of people are still making, did and are still making lots of money over this politics of fear associated with terrorism and the counter-terrorism associated with it.

      So it is a very lucrative business, war. And I think there was a–I’m coming increasingly to believe with regard to George W. Bush, there was a group around him that thought he was malleable, manipulatable, that were he the president you could get just about anything you wanted, domestically or internationally. And I think there’s a group around these people, too, who feel the same way about most of them, whose intellectual quotient with the exception of perhaps Kasich in monetary matters, Rand Paul in terms of the use of the war instrument, and maybe one or two others with niches of excellence, these people present that opportunity par excellence. There is no one in this group who is qualified to be president and commander in chief of the United States, period.
      WILKERSON: And when you look at the history of democracy, Paul, when you look at it closely from Athens through Britain to the United States, you see a suicidal tendency. Not for nothing did John Adams say that there never was a democracy yet that didn’t commit suicide, or Abraham Lincoln say no Napoleon would cross the Appalachians. No dictator would take America. We would murder ourselves if we were to fall. That’s the way democracies go. Special interest [inaud.] into the capital for their leaders, eventually take over the country. And they take over the country adverse to their own interest, in the end. The old metaphor, or the Aesop’s fable about killing the goose that laid the golden eggs, that’s what we’re talking about when we talk about democracy. We’re talking about it killing itself. Committing suicide. I agree with Lincoln that no one’s going to take this huge nation coast to coast, from Canada to Mexico, with an army. We’re going to murder ourselves. We’re going to kill ourselves.

      And that display last night of the Republican candidates is as good an indication of that as anything else I’ve seen.

      JAY: I mean, this is more or less what happened to German monopoly capital. They thought they could use Hitler, and they wound up destroying Germany. But–.

      WILKERSON: Precisely. Precisely. I watched 800 pound gorillas, Paul. Colin Powell. Donald Rumsfeld. Richard Cheney. Maybe Condoleezza Rice was a 200 pound gorilla, but nonetheless she fits this role, too. They all thought they had someone they could manipulate. They all thought that within their cabinet responsibility or their functional responsibility they could be president of the United States because they had a person who was president who was so manipulatable. And by God, Cheney did it. For six long years Cheney did it. He was president of the United States.

      And now you tell me that these people are being–these 17, these so-called Republican candidates for president are being supported by money, or at least some of them are, well it’s clear to me why they’re being supported by that money. Because that money thinks that they, too, will be manipulatable. And when you look at it from the perspective of George Bush’s disasters both domestic and international, I think–many of them, as I said, made money off those disasters. So they’re not necessarily worried about that. And then there is the aspect, too, of this purblind race to commit suicide. And gather all the money you can while you’re doing it, but nonetheless to commit suicide. Nationally, I mean. And that’s where we’re headed.

      Who were Bill Clinton’s manipulators? Who are the current president’s manipulators?
      Who are the next president’s manipulators?

      Narcissists get elected, then played by the psycho and sociopaths surrounding them.

      1. optimader

        I’m coming increasingly to believe with regard to George W. Bush, there was a group around him that thought he was malleable, manipulatable, that were he the president you could get just about anything you wanted, domestically or internationally.
        It disappoints me that he is only now coming to that conclusion.

        1. cnchal

          Hindsight is 20/20. It delights me that an insider would be so forthright to admit this.

          Who were Bill’s manipulators? Wasn’t Larry Summers, Robert Rubin, and Alan Greenspan and by extension Wall St there, guiding guiding guiding, until Glass – Steagall was abolished?

          I bet those three channeled the presidency many times. Robert Reich probably did too.

          1. optimader

            Hindsight is 20/20.
            Come on, it was terribly obvious in 2000, who didn’t know… really?

            What we Republicans should stand for is growth in the economy. We ought to make the pie higher.
            Republican primary debate in Columbia, South Carolina (February 15, 2000).

            It was amazing I won. I was running against peace and prosperity and incumbency. June 14, 2001, to Göran Persson, unaware he was still on live TV,

  12. Ron

    Women matter in politics and the Republican brand has had Palin since the last election and I don’t believe they want to to go with her in the 2nd spot again so Fiorina at this stage offers who ever wins the republican nomination a possible woman VP which has always been Fiorina’s goal but she can’t carry Calif or any other state making her value almost zero from an electoral college point of view but she gets national attention and builds up her PR value. She takes away votes from Trump and Carson so she lives on the same political island which may be helpful to someone like Bush if he became the Republican winner.

  13. Katniss Everdeen

    ms. fiorina certainly seems to have a mind like a steel power point presentation, prevarications not withstanding. But what happens when the REALLY important question, for millions of thoughtful american “voters,” is asked–“which candidate would you most like to have a beer with?”

    A more humorless, dour drinking “buddy” is hard to imagine.

    Trump on the other hand………

    1. jrs

      how many women would really want to have beer with the sexist a-hole that is trump. on the other hand he would pay. beer with bernie sanders ….. it might be alright.

    2. optimader

      –“which candidate would you most like to have a beer with?”
      mmmm. entirely more dependent on what kinda beer we are talking about here.

  14. Fool


    Great stuff as per usual — but I think the transcript would be much cleaner / easier to read if you annotated via Genius’ platform (I do know that they have a WordPress plug-in such that you could filter which annotations are featured as well).

    As an example, here’s the Washington Post x Genius annotated transcript of the debate.

    I was actually going to suggest this to Yves as a convenient way to link in future posts to the Calpers board meeting from a couple of weeks ago — I would happily compile the entire transcript onto a single WordPress page if you’d like to see an example — but it applies just the same here…

  15. Jess

    Well, Carly can’t be all bad. Her rise (and Trump’s) paralleled a cliff dive by Walker, who has now dropped his campaign for the nomination.

    1. RUKidding

      Dave & Chaz Koch stopped funding Walker. Not a sound investment. Fooled the rubes in WI but not working nationally.

      iCarly is all bad. Walker’s a loser. Has nothing to do w CF or even Trump.

  16. Foy

    Great Analysis Lambert. It is interesting observing the whole US election circus from here in Oz after our own recent mini leader swap circus, and how extreme some positions are. I found it interesting that Fiorina said she wouldn’t talk to Putin and would basically escalate things further. Not good to hear. Basically a warmonger.

    I was expecting something similar from Donald Trump. But when asked “how would you get Russia out of Syria” Trump said: ‘I would talk to him, I would get along with him, I would talk to Putin…I would get along with a lot of the world leaders that we are not currently getting along with…”.

    He didn’t demonise Putin or the Russians at all. That’s the first time I’ve heard any candidate or politician from either party say something along the lines of ‘we need to talk’. Or maybe he’s realised which way future winds are blowing after Kerry has had to backtrack on Syria.

    He’s definitely stuck a small wedge in there between himself and Fiorina and the others from a foreign policy perspective, which down the track allows him to position himself as a ‘safer hands’ candidate on that front ie ‘I wont blow up the world’. I had thought his was another fake presidential run for pass the popcorn publicity purposes but his Putin comment does seem to goes against the base. Which makes me wonder what his motives are in this comment and whether his run is actually real. I’m still expecting him to exit when the campaign money requirements become real and his bank account starts to suffer. But interesting none the less… (1 min clip of question and answer)

    1. Haven Monahan

      I’ve been listening closely to Trump and he is revolutionary to say the least.

      His three main heresies with orthodox GOP doctrine are:

      Trump is an adamant opponent of cheap labor mass immigration. Yes some GOPers talk about immigration but only Jeff Sessions is serious among them. Trump gets it in all areas, his immigration program even took on Jesse Jackson’s proposals to damage the H1-B scam so that women and minorities have a chance to compete for Silicon Valley jobs.

      Trump is a protectionist. Actually historically this was the GOP position but since WW2 they have abandoned this is favor of “free” cheap labor trade. He will propose tariffs and tax breaks for companies who move back to the US. He is a high-wage economic nationalist.

      On foreign policy he has isolationist tendencies and is most certainly not a neo-con. Besides his position on Putin, look how he deflected away from Iran and towards North Korea on nuclear weapons. Ann Coulter is an advisor and she expressed exasperation at all the mentions Israel was getting. Trump was early in on resisting the Iraq War and so he can hammer Biden or Clinton on this during the general election.

      Besides the Trumpian Trinity, he supports a universal health care plan (to be announced probably after the GOP primaries for obvious reasons) and wants to tax the hedge fund parasites on Wall Street.

      Trump is also currently leading a boycott against FoxNews! He has the entire media trying to play PC PRINCIPAL — YOU PC, BRO? (South Park reference) on him and so Carly Fiorina has disappeared after the debates and is now back to 5-6% in the polls.

      The GOP elite has manipulated the GOP working class base for decades with Guns, Gods, Gays, and Abortion. Trump takes the standard GOP positions on these issue although its obvious he doesn’t care about any of them except perhaps guns.

      With Trump and Bernie Sanders this is turning out to be so much more interesting than a boring old Clinton / Bush battle would be.

      The problem with Bernie Sanders is that you need a Donald Trump to first close the borders (lower labor supply), bring the jobs back (increase demand for labor) let the supply and demand curve increase salaries while sucking in people currently on benefits into the real economy. Only once the economy is humming along, can a Sanders step in an expand the welfare state in order to help feed the economic nationalist machine with the increasingly high skilled labor it will need.

      Even Sanders recognizes open borders is a cheap labor Koch brothers scam and yet I see no program from him to close the borders (please correct me if this is wrong).

  17. Sam Kanu

    What do you do when you are a “successful” CEO who has razed american industry and made yourself rich in the process? Move on to bigger things – like razing the entire society.

  18. ewmayer

    Re. Fiorina on immigration: Will she promise to keep da wops out? Cos’ dey’re stealing jobs from us micks, krauts and polacks.

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