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June 15, 2008

Elevating Carly (Or, Trying To)


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The McCain campaign’s promotion of former HP CEO Carly Fiorina as not just the female face of the Mac express and V.P. candidate poster girl, but most recently and hilariously, inheritor of Hillary love, reminds me of this shot that was floating around about six weeks ago.

In it, we see CF on her cell phone on the McCain bus/conference room/shrine to straight talk, while on the TV, we see a FOX news report about the Israeli bombing of a reactor site in Syria.

I had a couple thoughts about the shot.  First, although campaign higher-up Charlie Black is sitting in the back of the bus (which you can hopefully see in this version with John Bolton on the screen), the image above got more play, conveying the sense of CF as a singular presence on the team.  (Certainly, the relaxed body language with the cell phone lends all kinds of weight in the shot-calling department.)

So, what’s the most interesting thing about the pic? …No, it’s not how it lends more credibility to bomb-bomb-Iran. It does have to do, however, with the juxtaposition between Fiorina and the scene on TV.

A critic could say that by framing Carly in this authoritative position, the high stakes Middle East gamesmanship only calls out her lack of political experience — and lack of legitimacy as a V.P. choice.  I don’t think that’s how visual politics, and the Republicans, however, necessarily work.  I believe, once you combine these elements into one picture, and then repeat that message enough times in enough different ways, it creates an equivalence, eventually conveying the impression that Carly (like Bush and Condi, circa 2000) could handle anything.

Angry Clinton Women McCain? (Frank Rich)

McCain, Obama Reaching Out to Female Voters (plus, check out pic) (WAPO)

(image:  Mary Altaffer/AP.  April 24, 2008.  New Orleans)

  • Scarabus

    I know she’ll tell it differently, but wasn’t her tenure at HP a disaster? The stock price fell to half what it was when she came on; she was forced out by the board (landing softly because of her golden parachute, of course); and immediately after her being fired the stock jumped by 6 or 7 points.

  • NateTG

    I know it wasn’t during her tenure at HP but it seems strangely appropriate to mention pretexting, especially when the photo shows her on the phone.

  • Veronica

    Look at the little set of “devil horns” over the driver’s seat. Who is in the rear view mirror?
    Some might say that while she was at HP, Fiorina faced some of the same sexism and double standards that HRC did during the campaign. Not sure how that plays into McCain + Fiorina ‘08, but she drew a lot of the same irrational venom that Clinton did, simply because she was doing a job that a man usually did. She led the merger that was so fiercely contested.

  • donna

    As HP’s performance slowed, the Board of Directors became increasingly concerned. In early January 2005, the HP Board of Directors presented Fiorina with a four-page list of issues the board had with Fiorina’s performance.[22] A week after the meeting, the plan was leaked to the Wall Street Journal.[23] The board proposed a plan to shift her authority to HP division heads, which Fiorina resisted.[24]
    On 9 February 2005, Carly Fiorina was dismissed as chairman and chief executive officer of HP. “While I regret the board and I have differences about how to execute HP’s strategy, I respect their decision,” Fiorina said in a statement. “HP is a great company and I wish all the people of HP much success in the future.” She was replaced by Patricia C. Dunn as chairman and CFO Robert Wayman as CEO.[25] Hewlett-Packard’s stock jumped 7% on news of her departure.[26]
    Carly is being played.

  • itwasntme

    Doesn’t she come with illegal spying-on-other-board-members on her record? That might not look so good when under the magnifying glass. About visuals, she “wears the clothes” and “has the hair” and “has lots of money” so, for Repubs, she in.

  • scorpion

    So, is the Fox News Channel (as pictured in the photo) how McCain and his entourage keep up-to-date on what’s going on around the world? That may explain some of the idiotic statements and misinformation McCain seems to repeat over and over again.

  • itwasntme

    Great point, scorpion!

  • no drama

    what are the 2 points over the driver’s seat? looks like horns.

  • bob h

    Yes, as a former HP shareholder, I can tell you she nearly ran the company into the ground. What better symbolizes the bankruptcy of the Republican Party than putting her forward as some sort of exemplar?

  • jc, Las Vegas, NV

    She almost destroyed HP, if I remember correctly. Lots of bad mistakes and assumptions.

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