The Carly Fiorina Show (Next Level)

Former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina speaks during the WSJ/FBN Republican presidential debate, 10 November 2015, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  (Photo: Morry Gash/AP)

“Yes she met him in a green room, but not in a green room before a show. It was before a conference.”

Anna Epstein

The Carly Fiorina Show really does distinguish itself according to strange rules forged in some alternate universe. Then again, former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina is a Republican, and running for president at that. And this year the conservative market licks its lips for lies, as Dr. Ben Carson so aptly reminds. Ms. Fiorina, for her own part, works hard to keep up.

Which brings us to the WSJ/FBN debate; Steve Benen observes:

Gerard Baker, the editor in chief of the Wall Street Journal, reminded Carly Fiorina, “In seven years under President Obama, the U.S. has added an average of 107,000 jobs a month. Under President Clinton, the economy added about 240,000 jobs a month. Under George W. Bush, it was only 13,000 a month. If you win the nomination, you’ll probably be facing a Democrat named Clinton. How are you going to respond to the claim that Democratic presidents are better at creating jobs than Republicans?”

If anything, Baker’s numbers were tilted in the GOP’s favor, since Obama’s totals are dragged down by including the early months of his presidency, when the economy was in free fall. Nevertheless, the point is accurate―since World War II, more jobs are created under Democratic presidents than Republicans―prompting Fiorina to reply, “Yes, problems have gotten much worse under Democrats.”

She’d just been reminded of the opposite, which made the exchange a little unnerving. I kept waiting for one of the candidates to drop the pretense and declare, “I reject this version of reality and replace it with one I like better.”

And this was, seemingly, a theme among Republicans; Sen. Rand Paul (KY) tried the same stunt on a question about energy production; in general, the debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin was the sort of disaster in which winning the debate seems something akin to a composition class paper in which every fact can be wrong but, hey, you cited your sources properly, wrote a thesis, three support articles, and a conclusion, so, yeah, you got an A. Comparatively, though, the comp class actually has a higher standard; some of the candidates could not even be bothered to make sense when speaking.

It is easy enough to praise Carly Fiorina’s “debate” skills; she clearly had her talking points in a row and pitched a sale that, compared to the gibberish Donald Trump spewed throughout the evening, really does distinguish her among the field. Sen. Marco Rubio (FL), pitching a salvo of talking points, looked like a proverbial deer in headlights; while his youthful aesthetic seems an inevitable consideration, it would in fact be more accurate to say that sometimes boyish is not a good look. Youthful is one thing, but inexperienced just isn’t a good look on a presidential candidate. Then again, Rubio can, at least, pitch. Jeb can pitch, but not well; his merit was not looking as anxious as Rubio when rattling through talking points. Where Trump was incomprehensible, Fiorina pitched at the―again proverbial―next level.

But as with her previous rave reviews for style, Ms. Fiorina’s sense of substance seems pretty much awful. While everyone on the stage pitched according to their own reality, Ms. Fiorina, like the junior senator from Kentucky, Mr. Paul, attempted the maneuver in plain light of ignoring the reality presented in the question.

And perhaps it is merely an exercise of fancy, but it does sometimes occur to wonder exactly what reality Ms. Fiorina actually asserts. And this, in turn, makes episodes such as Jordyn Phelps reports for ABC News that much more entertaining:

One of the best zingers of the fourth GOP debate tonight was when Carly Fiorina took a jab at Donald Trump about Vladimir Putin, noting that she’s also met the Russian leader―”not in a green room for a show, but in a private meeting.”

But the former Hewlett-Packard CEO and Republican presidential candidate actually did meet with Putin in a green room.

In 2001, Fiorina and Putin met for 45 minutes in a green room at the APEC CEO Summit in Beijing, where both were speakers.

Which in turn is hardly scandalous; indeed we could simply call it silly, except it leads to the sort of line that would ordinarily be one of the most astounding we might never have expected to hear this season, except, well, these are Republicans, and running for president.

Fiorina’s campaign confirmed that the meeting took place in a green room, but Press Secretary Anna Epstein drew a distinction between one at a conference and a green room at a TV show.

“Yes she met him in a green room, but not in a green room before a show,” Epstein said in an email to ABC News. “It was before a conference.”

And come on. That’s comedy gold.

This is the Carly Fiorina Show.

____________________

Image note: Former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina speaks during the WSJ/FBN Republican presidential debate, 10 November 2015, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo: Morry Gash/AP)

Benen, Steve. “Reality takes a beating in latest Republican debate”. msnbc. 11 November 2015.

Phelps, Jordyn. “Carly Fiorina Met With Putin in a Green Room, Despite Zinging Trump for Doing So”. ABC News. 11 November 2015.

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