It’s on: Not since Madonna’s smack down with Paris Hilton over Kabbalah has there been such an intriguing match-up of big-name narcissists as the potential U.S. Senate brawl between Barbara Boxer and Carly Fiorina – both of whom probably thought that song was about her.
Fiorina’s self-aggrandizing style has been well chronicled in stories about her destructive reign as CEO of Hewlett-Packard. And Boxer, whose shameless self-regard recently popped out in her public dressing down of a Pentagon officer who dared call her “ma’am” instead of “Senator,” has recently written yet another cheesy political thriller that admiringly focuses on her alter ego, Ellen Fischer (guess who’s the “honest, tough and energetic” U.S. Senator?).
At a time when California’s unemployment is soaring and its public schools are going down the toilet, there’s something vaguely creepy about the state’s junior senator tooling around with an entourage to book readings as she tries to cash in on her office with fine writing like this swooning recollection of the first glimpse her heroine’s hubby had of her:
“Listen, ever since I saw you across that room, fighting for your children’s bill with every nerve in your body, I’ve loved you and wanted you and I can’t stand the thought of losing you.”
Whoa – peeping legislative posturing makes you hot? Duuude!
As Kimberley Strassel wrote about Boxer’s “Blind Trust” in a Wall Street Journal review, the book “begs to be read less as a thriller than as an attempt to score real-life political points in fictional form.”
Carla Takes On Carly: As a novelist, Boxer is, um, a really good politician. No matter what you think of her, she certainly paid her political dues, as a county supervisor and a member of congress, before stepping up to run for Senate, unlike Fiorina.
Yet from Boxer’s first, down-to-wire campaign against the mercurial Bruce Herschensohn in 1992, she has been routinely underrated by Republicans. Every six years, they think they’ve found the guy who can knock her off, and this time out, Fiorina is the guy being anointed by establishment GOPers such as Texas Senator John Cornyn, chair of the Republican Senatorial campaign committee. Unlike some of the other stiffs that Boxer’s vanquished, Fiorina at least will offer her a serious challenge in the swollen head sweepstakes.
“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.”
Be that as it may, the famously failed and fired CEO Fiorina does know a thing or three about product launches, so the rocky roll-out of her nascent Senate candidacy this week can’t have pleased her very much.
For starters, there was this roundhouse right attack by party rival Chuck DeVore, whose slashing style makes Steve Poizner look like the Dali Lama. Then came a total takedown by the ubiquitous Carla Marinucci, who added to her previous reportage about Fiorina’s spotty California voting record the new news that the would-be Senator never voted in the 1980s and 1990s, when she lived in Maryland and New Jersey.
“Fiorina strongly disputes the voting records as ‘just wrong,’” an unfortunate spokeswoman for Carly told Carla.
Yeah, well, Calbuzz strongly disputes our birth certificates as “just wrong” too, but that don’t make us young.
The final epee cut to the rookie contender came from Michael Finnegan of the By God L.A. Times, who graced his yarn with a fine example of proper technique in employing the understated story kicker: “Fiorina was fired from Hewlett-Packard after a rocky tenure.” As Brian Leubitz put it in Calitics: “Ouch”
“Carly doesn’t understand Boxer,” one triple smart GOP insider told us. “If she tries to play that princess act, she’s toast.”
Calbuzz early line: Give the points and take the incumbent.
Speaking of entitlements: It’s disappointing to learn that San Francisco Mayor and wannabe governor Gavin Newsom views as a state secret the public costs of the cops who follow him everywhere, including on his campaign travels.
Let’s be clear that we don’t begrudge Newsom a round-the-clock security detail, especially given San Francisco’s history of violence against public officials. But refusing to disclose the bill taxpayers are footing, on top of his years-long resistance to releasing his daily mayoral calendars, suggests a petulant disregard for transparency in government, a troubling trait for an elected official at any level, let alone a governor.
The mayor’s office contends that releasing such information could compromise Newsom’s security and put him at risk, an argument that doesn’t seem to fly with the U.S. Secret Service or other big city mayors.
The Prince of Pride’s obstinacy on the issue has won him an extended beef with S.F. Supe Ross Mirkarimi, who’s sponsoring an ordinance that would not only make the mayor disclose how much his personal protection on the campaign trail costs taxpayers, but also require him to reimburse the city for the politicking portion of his security bill.
“If he’s campaigning outside the city, there’s a question of commingling taxpayers’ money with his campaign,” Mirkarimi told us. “It’s good public policy that we recover those funds.”
Press Clips: Not sure who Tom Campbell knows at the Journal, but he got himself a big sloppy wet kiss this week trumpeting his bid for the Republican nomination for governor, in which a whole brigade of unnamed “analysts” offered a rosy view of Dudley Do Right’s chances…The always worth reading Nate Silver offers a forecast that should keep Nancy Pelosi awake at night — “While the Democrats are not extraordinary likely to lose the House, such an outcome is certainly well within the realm of possibility” –- over at FiveThirtyEight.com… Check out California’s Capitol, where Deadhead Greg Lucas turned off the iPod long enough to analyze the true shakiness of the just completed budget deal.