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August 20, 2015

Carly and Ben, the Other Outsiders

Patricia A. Kelly

We’ve heard plenty about Donald Trump, more than plenty. Most television commentators, definitely including conservatives, wrinkle up their noses and talk about the “post Trump” choices.

His success so far has definitely shaken their worlds, as so many people, including substantial numbers of women, forgive his every faux pas, and provide him with enthusiastic support.

What I wonder is whether he’ll be allowed to write his name on the side of Air Force One – if he wins.

Two other Republican outsiders are doing quite well themselves, another reminder to our “political class” that people are fed up with them.

Still the pundits opine that no one outside that class can possibly win the presidency.

Politics being politics, there is no question that insider connections help enormously in gaining party support and funding. There’s also the widely held view that coming from inside the system is necessary for one to function as president.

Gubernatorial and corporate experience, in my view, are both excellent background for the leader of our federal government. Considering the performance of Congress in recent years, I’m not so sure that’s much of a resume item. It shows that one can get votes, but it’s also an opportunity to become accustomed to wallowing in muck, muck being one thing we need to get out of.

Ben Carson, renowned pediatric neurosurgeon, is doing very well. That could well mean people are looking for a leader with character. I certainly hope so.

Dr. Carson, a man of color, rose from poverty and the “ghetto” to become world renowned. He is extremely well educated and well read, thanks to his mom’s excellent rearing along with his own outstanding effort. He can obviously remain calm and make hard decisions under extreme pressure. He has excellent experience in complex planning. He can direct a team, and, in the hospital setting, has worked with bureaucracy. He’s intelligent, mature and wise, and identifies himself as an American person, without adjectives relating to his color or ancestry, something we all need to learn to do.

What he’s missing is experience running a large entity, such as a corporation, a city or a state.

Carly Fiorina, the Republican woman, empowered by that alone to battle Hillary Clinton without the “War against Women” retort getting in the way of issues, does have big corporate leadership experience. Like Dr. Carson, she is quite conservative, but with a few softer edges. She is against abortion, but accepts exceptions for the life of the mother, rape and incest, for example.

Mrs. Fiorina, well educated, with a master’s degree in management from MIT, smashed women’s glass ceiling by being the first woman to lead a Fortune 500 company, after extensive leadership experience in other large companies.

Her leadership at Hewlett Packard is controversial, with some critics saying her management hurt the company, but others in business literature suggest that she was very successful, her ouster resulting from dysfunction at the corporate board and ancillary leadership level. By the end of her time as CEO, including the market crash after the 2001 Trade Center attack, HP showed a net gain in employees. Her controversial merger of HP with Compaq did prove ultimately successful.

Mrs. Fiorina has been active in Republican politics, running for the U.S. Senate in California in 2010, losing to Diane Feinstein, a difficult-to-defeat incumbent. She had a leadership role in John McCain’s presidential campaign, served in several leadership positions in the GOP and in CPAC.

She serves now as chairman of a nonprofit that has contributed to the empowerment of women in business in third world countries.

She’s very intelligent, a superb speaker, winner of the Republican “Happy Hour” debate, and is rising in the polls.

Both Mrs. Fiorina and Dr. Carson have the ability to remain calm and thoughtful under pressure, unlike Mr. Trump, whom I can’t help picturing calling Angela Markel a pig, if she offends him.

Maybe it’s time to give more consideration to the “other outsiders.”


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