Fiorina’s Live Mic
No doubt by now you have heard of Carly Fiorina’s open mic gaffe (you’d think that politicians would learn) in which she, amongst other things, dissed Barbara Boxer’s hair, questioned Meg Whitman’s choice to go on Sean Hannity’s show.
If you haven’t seen/heard it, here it is via CNN:
Jennifer Steinhauer writing in the NYT (An Early Campaign Gaffe Makes a Non-Issue Big) makes some interesting observations about the potential reactions to this kind of event:
They both inform and confirm the image from her days as chief executive at Hewlett-Packard that she is tart and unpleasant. And they open the entire campaign to perceptions, however tired or unfair, that women can be dragged down the road of pettiness, perceptions that detract from the serious and pressing issues of the day.
While hardly the kind of thing to decide an election, I think that this is the kind of event that can help shape a campaign narrative because it does play into existing perceptions about a given candidate.
“The fact is that some voters, including many women, find this interesting and no doubt form their character judgments on such matters,” said Bruce E. Cain, a professor of political science at the University of California, Berkeley.
“Of course, bad or old-fashioned hair can become a metaphor for being out of step and in need of change,” he added. “I would like to believe that people use the trivial to express their thoughts about what matters, rather than believe that the trivial matters. That said, it is not a good way to start a woman-on-woman race by playing into negative stereotypes about female culture.”
I think that there is something to the following as well:
“I think this is a mistake of a rookie candidate who doesn’t know when to keep her mouth shut,” said Garry South, a Democratic strategist in Santa Monica.
I am, by the way, totally with Steve Benen on the following:
In the same live-mic clip, Fiorina reflects on Republican gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman’s media strategy. Whitman avoided the media during her California primary, relying instead on extensive television advertising, but agreed to talk to Fox News’ Sean Hannity yesterday.
“I find it really surprising that on the first day of the general Meg Whitman’s going on Sean Hannity,” Fiorina said. “Did you hear that? I think it’s bizarre. I mean, she’s never been on Sean Hannity. I think it’s a very bad choice, actually. You know how he is.”
Fiorina added, “Why after saying no to all these people would you go on Sean Hannity? That’s not the one you would do. Sean Hannity is not an easy interview.”
I’m not sure what to make of this, especially since Hannity is a very easy interview for Republican candidates.