Keep an eye on Carly Fiorina

Among GOP presidential hopefuls we have long thought that Governor Walker of Wisconsin was worth very close attention. Our thinking has not changed. He offers a proven record of defeating Democrats in a blue state as well as a trustworthily conservative mindset, not neglecting the social side. Carly Fiorina is also in our spotlight. Articulate, bright, truth-speaking and direct, conservative, she pulls no punches when it comes to the abominable Hillary Clinton. All in all she would be a formidable candidate.

What are the most fundamental qualifications we seek in a President? Here’s a possible short list:

  • Sound diagnosis of the problems with our government
  • A good conservative plan to reform it and the ability to push it through Congress
  • Be trustworthy and have enough energy and grit to get the job done
  • We could add that a disqualification is a background in politics of going along to get along.

Does Mrs Fiorina have the qualifications to be a successful two-term President?

Consider her résumé. She has a bachelor’s degree in medieval history and an M.B.A. degree from MIT. She writes her own books. Her first job was as a secretary; from there she steadily advanced to become CEO of Hewlett-Packard, the foremost technology company in the world. She understands the leadership role of the CEO. She learned about Democrat electoral politics from her time in California and notably her failed Senate campaign against ‘brain-dead’ Barbara Boxer. We are familiar with the literature dealing with business leadership; Mrs Fiorina gets it. To our way of thinking this is very important. She stresses many times that her goal is “to unlock the potential in everyone.” She has created or run many non-profit organizations, such as the American Conservative Union, the One Woman Initiative, Opportunity International, was Chairman of the External Advisory Board of the CIA, selected by Director Michael Hayden, served on the Defense Business Board, under Secretaries of Defense Rumsfeld and Gates, and on the Advisory Committee for Transformational Diplomacy under Condoleezza Rice. She is a Christian conservative. She has explicitly stated that one of her goals is “to puncture the balloon of politics as usual.”

A Fortune 100 business résumé tells us the person is experienced in getting things done in a context of many constraints. These include government regulation, other cultures, corporate as well as national, the company’s culture and infighting, and notably customers. As CEO of Hewlett-Packard Mrs Fiorina suffered from the acquisition of Compaq Computer. She won that battle, but lost the war. To us it is important to wage a good battle even when the outcome is in doubt. We need this quality after so many years of our timid republican leadership . Those who have the idea that the big corporations control our economy and politicians doubt that a former CEO used to controlling and manipulating and getting his way would be a good fit in a government of messy compromise. However CEOs in particular are well aware of how very difficult it is to change a corporate culture. The scholarly literature indicates that it takes at least five years of sustained effort. We reply that it is Democrats and community organizers who have insisted on having their way. If there is any culture that requires change, it is that of the Federal government. It is far from impossible that a CEO could have better success than a politician used to and tolerant of the ways of government. It is the skill set that counts, not direct experience. Remember the success of General Eisenhower. Although he was a mediocre student at West Point and had no combat experience, he was an excellent leader of the European theatre in WW II, as well as President of Columbia University and later the United States.

If nothing else, Mrs Fiorina’s presence will enliven the debates by reducing the waffle from the other candidates and leading a frontal attack on Hillary.

Let’s let her speak for herself with a few salient quotations from her new book, Rising to the Challenge: my leadership journey.

“The combination of these two unstoppable forces has fundamentally altered America and the world … Technological change rewards speed, flexibility, and agility. Globalization means jobs and investment can go anywhere. The result is that competition is now global– and fierce – for every job and every dollar of investment. And not only do we have to compete for jobs, we have to compete for good jobs, and that means having a trained and educated workforce. (pp.156-7)

“Obviously, we must fundamentally reform government…The people of government are not incompetent. However, a large, ponderous bureaucracy, bound by rules, defined by hierarchy, is necessarily incompetent …Bureaucracies literally cannot keep pace with the speed of change, the ubiquitous nature of information, or the complexity of the problems they are asked to solve. Bureaucracies were invented to maintain control. The twenty-first century cannot be controlled. It can be leveraged and harnessed, but it cannot be controlled. Only ingenuity, flexibility, and creativity can prevail. And bureaucracies – by their nature – kill all these things. The liberals who argue that more government is the answer fail, most fundamentally, to realize this essential truth: bureaucracies cannot cope successfully in the new world in which we live.” (pp.164-6)

“Systemic change and a holistic vision of what is required do not imply a single, comprehensive solution to a long-standing problem. Indeed, successful change never occurs in one fell swoop. ‘Comprehensive immigration reform’ will fail, just as comprehensive health care reform is failing. But to start a successful process of real reform – and to complete the change that is required – people need a road map.” (p.163)

“One of the greatest fictions ever peddled by politicians is that big government is necessary to fight big business. In fact, the opposite is true. Big business and big government are mutually reinforcing. They need each other, and they know it…Bureaucracies and crony capitalism crush potential in America. The greatest lever for unlocking it is leadership…True leadership is about seeing a different future and changing the order of things to achieve that future. The leader’s job is not to be imprisoned by the conventional wisdom but to be out in front of it….The highest calling of leadership is to unlock the potential of others.” (pp.20-21)

And finally “Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina said at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority conference…that “people of sincere faith make better leaders,” because “faith gives us humility,” “empathy” and “optimism.”



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