Friday, August 28, 2009

...I bet you think this blog is about you.

Since the beginning of 2009, Californians have become well accustomed to putting the “I” before “U” when it comes to the state’s financial conditions. The 2010 US Senate race between Barbara Boxer and Carly Fiorina closely mirrors that sentiment of uncertainty and lack of direction. Above all, however, is the permeating trend of putting personal ambition in front of a population already afflicted by the greed and narcissism of its existing leadership. Early in this campaign season, both major candidates have proven that they are out of touch with their public perceptions; their discourse from their respective ivory towers have all the makings of a cautionary tale in policy communication.

Throughout her three terms as Senator, Boxer’s greatest threat has been dislocating a shoulder while patting herself on the back. Her remarks at the April Democratic state convention verify this inclination: “Time after time I had to face down the defenders of the status quo,” she told delegates in a speech that formally announced her re-election bid. “I have never been afraid to stand up to anyone, I have never been afraid to stand alone,” she added, lest we miss the message. Nevertheless, during her press avail, Boxer ducked questions from reporters on Propositions 1A-1F, only the most controversial issue at the convention. The flummoxed Senator insisted that she and the state’s senior senator, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, were about to launch a major investigation to plumb the depths and detail of the props: “I don’t know yet. I’m studying them. Sen. Feinstein and I were just talking about that. Our plate’s been so full we haven’t looked at it,” she said. “You may have noticed that we’ve been a little hectic and very involved in our work in Washington,” she snipped.

Well excuse us for asking.

Clearly, “Senator Stand-alone” has more pressing issues to handle in than the trifle $40 billion budget deficit for the state she represents. Chiefly among them: a book tour. In a Wall Street Journal review, Boxer’s novel, Blind Trust, was touted as a story that “begs to be read less as a thriller than as an attempt to score real-life political points in fictional form.” Perhaps Babs should stick to her day job.

Say what you want about the junior Senator from California; but unlike her major opponent, the famously fired CEO Carly Fiorina, Boxer has paid her dues as a three-term senator, member of Congress, and a country supervisor. “One is hard-pressed,” ABC-News Silicon Valley columnist Michael Malone wrote of Fiorina, “to think of anything she did during her time at either Lucent or HP that wasn’t designed to burnish her own image — at the sacrifice of anyone who got in her way.” Showing her undying loyalty to the spotlight in a half-hour speech at Stanford, she used the word "I" more than 100 times.

No stranger to product rollouts, Fiorina must have been undoubtedly disappointed in her mid-August formal campaign announcement. Due to her rocky political experience as an advisor to the 2008 McCain-Palin ticket and a new development that Fiorina has not voted in any election in the past three decades, Fiorina will likely focus on her business leadership background. We will likely see the candidate present herself as a fresh face to those California republicans who think Democrats have too much power (a more refined Sarah Palin with a gentrified, Bay-Area upbringing, if you will).

In the first weeks of the campaign, Fiorina has sustained some major blows. Within 48 hours, party rival Chuck DeVore fired a warning shot. But it did not take long for Carla Marinucci to discover Fiorina’s spotty voting record, including the embarrassing fact that the Senate candidate never voted in any election in the 1980s and 1990s, when she lived in Maryland and New Jersey, nor since she has resided in California.


So there we have it, California: our two candidates for representation in the nation’s most powerful legislative body. Neither Boxer – a career politician – nor Fiorina - a Fortune 500 CEO – has presented any real comfort or talent for leading the public. One can only hope that these ladies can place their hand mirrors back in their purses, roll up their sleeves, and begin to self-examine their public perception.