Friday, October 01, 2010
Meg Whitman: Too stupid to govern
In an era of vacuum-headed candidates (e.g., Sharron Angle, Rand Paul, and Christine O'Donnell), one would not have expected the former chief executive officer for a major corporation to distinguish herself by her cluelessness. Nevertheless, Meg Whitman has managed to make her mark in the moron sweepstakes. The skills that permitted her to be a successful corporate executive for eBay have not shown themselves equal to the task of campaigning for governor of the state of California. I offer the following evidence:
No sooner had she won the Republican nomination in the primary election by drowning her opponent in a deluge of money, Meg approached the problem of securing Steve Poizner's support and endorsement in the general election by attacking him some more. The primary was in June. During the first week of August, while being interviewed on the Los Angeles radio station KFI, Whitman heaped additional criticism on state insurance commissioner Poizner by saying he didn't do “what his Republican governor asked him to do to solve the budget crisis.”
Poizner quickly fired back, “The Sacramento Bee audited our books and confirmed that Meg was just plain wrong on this issue in the primary, going so far as to call her attack an outright lie.”
It took another month of cooling down before Poizner finally offered a lukewarm endorsement of Whitman's candidacy. He hasn't, however, been stumping for her during the general election campaign. Poizner has apparently managed to find better things to do.
Whitman never found it necessary to say nice things about her erstwhile rival and to stage a photo opportunity with their hands clasped and raised in the victory salute. I guess she was too busy spending her own money to spend any time making nice to Poizner.
Fresno is the epicenter of California's central valley, the state's creamy red center. If a Republican candidate doesn't rack up big numbers in the valley, the Democratic candidate rides to victory with Bay Area and Los Angeles votes. No sensible GOP politician would risk diminishing that treasure trove of conservative votes.
So what does Whitman do while chatting with the editorial board of the San Jose Mercury News? She says, “I don't know if you've been to Fresno recently. Fresno looks like it's like Detroit. It's just awful.”
Naturally many Fresnans took umbrage. Whitman and her campaign scrambled quickly to explain that the candidate was actually decrying economic conditions in the San Joaquin Valley—not trashing the pride of central California.
Whitman's excuse is not false. She was talking economics at the time. It's just evidence that even at this late date the candidate can't frame a statement without jamming a foot in her mouth. (Or perhaps she really does disdain Fresno. She wouldn't be the first.)
Nothing demonstrates Whitman's amateur status more starkly than the current fuss over her falsely documented maid. While some of her supporters may find her naivety refreshing (she's not a career politican—just an idealist with more money than sense!), it doesn't speak well of her potential for handling the job in Sacramento. One hears that politics goes on there all the time, and Meg may not be equal to it.
Right now Whitman is complaining that the timing of the maid's revelations is politically motivated.
If she had had enough sense, she could have inoculated herself against this back in 2009, when she was launching her campaign, digging into her deep pockets, and learning (allegedly for the first time) that her maid was not in the country legally. While staking out her politically nuanced position on immigration reform and border enforcement (trying to placate Hispanic voters while hanging on to the nativists that fill the GOP's ranks), Whitman could have matter-of-factly noted that prospective employers needed more assurance that potential employees were providing legitimate paperwork. In that context she could have alluded to her own experience as an object lesson in the system's flaws and evidence of the need for more stringent rules.
The controversy would have been minimal. Instead, Whitman appears to have thought that the matter would never arise in the heat of the general election campaign. If so, she's a fool. Worse, she insisted loudly that she and her husband never had a clue about their maid's status and had never seen the letter from the Social Security Administration inquiring about irregularities in the maid's Social Security number—only to discover too late that her husband had written a note on the letter they supposedly never saw.
It's a good year to be a Republican candidate and Jerry Brown is not the sexiest candidate the Democrats could have selected as their gubernatorial nominee, so perhaps—just maybe—Whitman and her avalanche of greenbacks will manage to survive her missteps and eke out a victory. But her campaign performance doesn't augur well for her political future. Meg Whitman may just be too stupid to govern.