In a year in which the GOP promises to field its strongest field of qualified and experienced candidates in a generation, and in which there promises to be a veritable buffet of viable options for establishment and movement conservatives alike, for some reason the existence of Carly Fiorina’s bizarrely pointless 2016 campaign continues to be a story worth reporting on for the political media. The usual reasons given for her campaign as a serious entity ring hollow and insincere, much like the entirety of her 2010 Senate campaign:
Fiorina is positioning herself as a business-savvy outsider with a compelling personal story who can command a stage. If she avoids stumbles, a run could boost her standing in GOP circles; some speculate her real goal is the vice presidency or a Cabinet slot.
Fiorina also is the only woman so far considering running on the Republican side, a blessing for a party criticized for its dearth of female leaders.
The problem is that the role of “business-savvy outsider” is likely to be already occupied by candidates who have also demonstrated a) executive ability within the government and b) the ability to win elections at least once (like Mitt Romney, Scott Walker, and Jeb Bush). As to the idea that her running can provide “female balance” to a ticket in the VP slot, we have already seen the results of trying this particular schtick and it is not pretty.
More importantly, the idea that the Republican party has a deficit of female leadership that needs to be addressed by Carly Fiorina – a woman who does not actually hold a position of leadership – is patently false and insulting and plays directly into the media narrative on this score. As it turns out, the Republican party has a number of female leaders who have actually won election to high office and have a record of accomplishment (as opposed to tokenism) that they can point to – women like Nikki Haley, Susana Martinez, and Mary Fallin, to say nothing of the several Republican women currently serving in the Senate. Nominating one of these women could be easily defended on the merits as the nomination of a person actually qualified to assume the Presidency instead of as an appeal to tokenism. And before anyone jumps down my throat for using that term, notice that the Fiorina campaign is basically asking to be taken seriously on this basis.
The simple fact is that while there is some overlap in the skillset between successful business person and successful politician, they are not identical skill sets. In particular, the application process is a significant part of the actual job when it comes to being a politician (whether we like it or not). And we have seen numerous times in the recent past that exposing people to too much increased scrutiny too fast does not end well. And nothing about Fiorina’s 2010 campaign indicates that she has some sort of savant ability that will allow her to escape the spectacular flameouts of Herman Cain, et al. Losing an election does not disqualify someone from being a serious presidential candidate; never having won one is.
Carly Fiorina has no chance to win, as she even knows. And she has no secondary message that she is trying to highlight. And the 2016 field doesn’t need her for any personal reasons.
There is no reason for Carly Fiorina’s 2016 candidacy to exist. It’s time for the political media to stop treating it like a serious entity.