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Carly Fiorina deserves to be taken seriously

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In virtually every interview and appearance Carly Fiorina leaves me surprised. Hey, she’s really good. You know, she is making a great argument there. Okay, that’s a good line to use against Hillary Clinton. Maybe I should stop being surprised and start treating Fiorina like a fully capable contender. She surely is more informed and grounded in the real world than Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), more adept at interpersonal relations than New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie or Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and more experienced in the private sector than any other GOP contender.

She has spent more time than most governors dealing with international leaders and issues. As she told Hugh Hewitt in an interview on Tuesday, “I have been in the world doing business in the world, meeting with world leaders, for 25 years. So there is always more to learn. And I look forward to learning more. On the other hand, what’s going on in the world and the people in the world are not abstractions to me. They’re not people I’ve just read about. In many cases, they’re people I’ve met and sat across the table from, for example, Vladimir Putin, for example, Bibi Netanyahu, for example, the Chinese leadership. And so I do think I [have not] just academic understanding of it, but [an] experienced understanding of it.”

And Fiorina’s negotiating skills and perspective are certainly in demand. She hit the nail on the head:

President Obama’s perhaps gravest mistake is when he took a victory lap in the Rose Garden around this framework of a deal, because what he has signaled to the Iranians is he must have this deal at all costs. He not only was unwilling to ever walk away from the table, rule number one, if you want a good deal, walk away from the table at least once. Rule number two, never commit yourself publicly until you actually have the deal you want. And President Obama is now committed publicly. So my prediction is that unless Congress intervenes, which I desperately hope they will, what Iran is going to spend the next two months doing is making this deal, which is already very good for them, even better for them, because they now know that President Obama has committed the entire prestige of his office to getting this deal done. . . . This president is hopeless on negotiations from what I’ve observed over the past six years, and I think he really honestly believes that it is the eloquence of his presentation alone that will change minds and move hearts. And of course, he’s up against people who are prepared to take advantage of that sadly, you said it earlier, it’s an egocentric view of the world, and it’s not a realistic view of the world.

On Iran, specifically, Fiorina’s diagnosis of the so-called framework is sound. (“Iran got everything they wanted, and we got nothing that we wanted, as established by our president when he first set out the goals. So as I just mentioned, none of their nuclear facilities are being dismantled, none of their centrifuges are being taken apart. Oh, they’re promising to reduce some of their nuclear fuel, but of course, they’ve never really agreed to inspections, and suddenly we think they’re going to agree to inspections? This is a regime that has a strategy over many decades to disrupt the entire region, and to gain nuclear weapons. And that’s the strategy they’re on.”) And Fiorina surely has the president’s routine down pat. (“If you disagree with him, you must be either stupid or venal or you have bad motivation, because clearly if you were an intelligent person who is motivated by good character and care for the nation, you would agree with President Obama. He does this all the time.”) She likewise adeptly debunked President Obama’s claim that war is the only alternative to his miserable deal: “[T]his is the false choice that President Obama always presents to us. There’s nothing we can do in the Middle East unless we go to war. There’s nothing we can do to push back against Russia unless we go to war. And of course, the one thing we could and should be doing in all of those circumstances is supporting our allies as they have asked us to. So we would support Israel by stopping talking to Iran now. You know, it’s amazing to me, President Obama laid out a very clear set of goals for this deal when this process first started. Not a single one of those goals has been achieved. So not one of their nuclear facilities is being taken apart, including the one buried in the mountain, not one of their 19,000 centrifuges is being dismantled. Yes, supposedly, they’re reducing some of their nuclear material, but now, they’ve decided no, we’re not willing to ship it out to Russia.”

Is Fiorina the most qualified candidate? Probably not, but she is more qualified, more grounded in reality and more verbally adept than many hopefuls and she has interesting, accurate things to add to the national conversation. And among her many talents is skewering Hillary Clinton — without running the risk of being labeled as sexist. She cleverly denied that Clinton was being treated differently than male candidates: “I would say it is true that they are holding her to a similar standard that they have held President Obama to. So in that sense, I think they’ve treated her the same way regardless of her gender as they’ve treated this president, unfortunately.” Yes, the double standard is ideological, not gender-based. And Fiorina mocked Clinton’s e-mail defense, saying, “[S]he had a plan to shield her communications from prying eyes. There’s no other reason that you would put a server in your basement for the kind of classified, sensitive information that she would be sharing and transmitting as secretary of State. My second reaction was that she clearly doesn’t understand technology very well, because when she starts talking about it’s safe, it’s safe, we have two Secret Service agents guarding it, you know, as I think I’ve said to you before, no one’s worried about it getting stolen. They’re worried about it getting hacked. And when we have Sony, J.P. Morgan/Chase, Home Depot, Target, all of these companies being systemically hacked, they certainly can get into Mrs. Clinton’s private email server.”

Fiorina is surely earning the affection of the base, the respect of her fellow potential candidates and maybe a high-level job (or VP bid) if things fall her way. Republicans are lucky to have her, and we look forward to her dissection of the Obama-Clinton-Kerry foreign policy and some lessons in Negotiations 101 and cybersecurity.