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McCain: Fiorina a 'Role Model'

By Robert Barnes
Republican presidential nominee John McCain has been on a tear of late about the exorbitant buyout packages that dismissed executives take from their companies.

He has proclaimed that former Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac CEOs (and Obama supporters) Jim Johnson and Franklin Raines should "give back" the $21 million and $25 million severance packages they received.

So wouldn't it seem logical that former Hewlett-Packard executive (and McCain supporter) Carly Fiorina should send back her $42-million golden parachute?

Apparently not.

Reminded that Johnson and Raines, like Fiorina, received the money from shareholders rather than taxpayers, McCain said: "First of all ... Fannie and Freddie, as we know, were quasi-government organizations, clearly organizations that at least made people believe, and market believe, that they were part of the federal government.''

But what about Fiorna? "I believe that Carly Fiorina is a role model to millions of young Americans," McCain said.

"She started out as a part-time secretary and she ended up a CEO of one of the major corporations in America. I'm proud of her record and so I want everybody to know that Carly Fiorina is a person that I admire and respect."

By Web Politics Editor  |  September 23, 2008; 7:36 PM ET
Categories:  John McCain  
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Hey JT:

It's amazing you how many of you 19 percenters keep pointing to this Bloomberg "story" (written by a McCain campaigner of course) about the "roadblock" Democrats created against s.190, the bill McCain sponsored that would of course stopped this trainwreck. If only the obstructionist Dems weren't in the way...

This bill never got out of committee. In 2005 Democrats held no majorities on any Senate committee. Blaming Democrats for this bill not passing is nonsense so either please go away and find something else to blame on the other guys or wake up.

Posted by: digger | September 24, 2008 9:41 PM | Report abuse

With Obama's ad attacking McCain for having never used a computer I thought it might be good to look at what Obama has never done. Obama has:

Never run a business
Never served in the military
Never commanded troops
Never balanced a budget
Never written a federal law
Never refused an earmark
Never lowered a tax
Never won an election in which the "field wasn't cleared" of opponents
Never heard Rev. Wright say anything controversial
Never had multiple bones broken leaving him unable to raise his arms over his head making it virtually impossible to operate a keyboard for any length of time

Posted by: Anonymous | September 24, 2008 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Why would it be logical for her to give her package back? Last time I looked, Hewlett Packard is a thriving computer company that has nothing to do with the financial mess created by Fannie and Freddie.

Wow, are there any adults at the Post that know anything about finance? Scary.

Here are the real facts that matter to the public:

How the Democrats Created the Financial Crisis: Kevin Hassett

Enough cards on this table have been turned over that the story is now clear. The economic history books will describe this episode in simple and understandable terms: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac exploded, and many bystanders were injured in the blast, some fatally.
Fannie and Freddie did this by becoming a key enabler of the mortgage crisis. They fueled Wall Street's efforts to securitize subprime loans by becoming the primary customer of all AAA-rated subprime-mortgage pools. In addition, they held an enormous portfolio of mortgages themselves.

Take away Fannie and Freddie, or regulate them more wisely, and it's hard to imagine how these highly liquid markets would ever have emerged. This whole mess would never have happened.

It is easy to identify the historical turning point that marked the beginning of the end.

Back in 2005, Fannie and Freddie were, after years of dominating Washington, on the ropes. They were enmeshed in accounting scandals that led to turnover at the top. At one telling moment in late 2004, captured in an article by my American Enterprise Institute colleague Peter Wallison, the Securities and Exchange Comiission's chief accountant told disgraced Fannie Mae chief Franklin Raines that Fannie's position on the relevant accounting issue was not even ``on the page'' of allowable interpretations.

Then legislative momentum emerged for an attempt to create a ``world-class regulator'' that would oversee the pair more like banks, imposing strict requirements on their ability to take excessive risks. Politicians who previously had associated themselves proudly with the two accounting miscreants were less eager to be associated with them. The time was ripe.

The clear gravity of the situation pushed the legislation forward. Some might say the current mess couldn't be foreseen, yet in 2005 Alan Greenspan told Congress how urgent it was for it to act in the clearest possible terms: If Fannie and Freddie ``continue to grow, continue to have the low capital that they have, continue to engage in the dynamic hedging of their portfolios, which they need to do for interest rate risk aversion, they potentially create ever-growing potential systemic risk down the road,'' he said. ``We are placing the total financial system of the future at a substantial risk.''

What happened next was extraordinary. For the first time in history, a serious Fannie and Freddie reform bill was passed by the Senate Banking Committee. The bill gave a regulator power to crack down, and would have required the companies to eliminate their investments in risky assets.

Different World

If that bill had become law, then the world today would be different. In 2005, 2006 and 2007, a blizzard of terrible mortgage paper fluttered out of the Fannie and Freddie clouds, burying many of our oldest and most venerable institutions. Without their checkbooks keeping the market liquid and buying up excess supply, the market would likely have not existed.

But the bill didn't become law, for a simple reason: Democrats opposed it on a party-line vote in the committee, signaling that this would be a partisan issue. Republicans, tied in knots by the tight Democratic opposition, couldn't even get the Senate to vote on the matter.

That such a reckless political stand could have been taken by the Democrats was obscene even then. Wallison wrote at the time: ``It is a classic case of socializing the risk while privatizing the profit. The Democrats and the few Republicans who oppose portfolio limitations could not possibly do so if their constituents understood what they were doing.''

Mounds of Materials

Now that the collapse has occurred, the roadblock built by Senate Democrats in 2005 is unforgivable. Many who opposed the bill doubtlessly did so for honorable reasons. Fannie and Freddie provided mounds of materials defending their practices. Perhaps some found their propaganda convincing.

But we now know that many of the senators who protected Fannie and Freddie, including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Christopher Dodd, have received mind-boggling levels of financial support from them over the years.

Throughout his political career, Obama has gotten more than $125,000 in campaign contributions from employees and political action committees of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, second only to Dodd, the Senate Banking Committee chairman, who received more than $165,000.

Oh, and there is one little footnote to the story that's worth keeping in mind while Democrats point fingers between now and Nov. 4:
Senator John McCain was one of the three cosponsors of S.190, the bill that would have averted this mess.

Posted by: jt | September 24, 2008 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Is there NOTHING John McCain won't say these days?? Every day he comes out with another mess... now he is ok with Carly keeping $40 million but against other CEO compensation packages?! How many different John McCains are they rattling around in his head these days?? EMBARASSING!

Posted by: Ryan Healey | September 24, 2008 2:20 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Pupster | September 24, 2008 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Wherever one is politically, calling Fiorina a "role model" ought to cause one to pause. As Computer Tech noted, in the industry she was noted as being a hack and taking one of the best run, innovative and decent companies and sinking it into mediocrity.

In fact, when I first learned she was an economic adviser to John McCain and his campaign is when I first suspected this was not the John McCain of 2000. With advisers like Fiorina it is no wonder McCain's economics policies are out of touch with reality. She was pretty good at killing jobs, shipping production off shore and walking away with a nice fat bonus, but those aren't the qualities we needed then or now.

Posted by: Wes | September 24, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

A week or so ago Foot in the mouth Fiorina said John McPhony does not know how to run a corporation. At that time McPhony chastised her and said she is no more going to make all those press tours she was planning to make as a McPhony advisor. Now all of a sudden, he is changing his music. He now thinks Foot in the mouth Fiorina is somebody who he admires. Looks like the glitter of Lipstick Palin is fading. In this financial crisis McPhony might be thinking he should've put foot in the mouth Fiorina as his running mate instead of Lipstick Palin.

Posted by: McOver | September 24, 2008 11:30 AM | Report abuse

In 2003, Warren Buffet warned of today's financial meltdown, calling it

WEAPONS OF MASS FINANCIAL DESTRUCTION. (Google it) He included research in the Berkshire 2002 Finanacial Report.

A consultant recently was called in by the Office of the Comptroller of Currency to understand what the heck a derivative was. His site mentioned that these "Derivatives" were "a gambling casino empire that has taken over the world's largest banks." and In the United States alone, their total face value is more than $71 trillion, or over double the size of the great U.S. debt monster Including those held overseas, the grand total easily exceeds $100 trillion. And yet...VERY LITTLE IS KNOWN ABOUT THEM!

No wonder why there's no oversight. Take a look. Make up your own mind:

Posted by: Realist | September 24, 2008 2:06 AM | Report abuse

Computer tech said it all.

Carly Fiorina was a great self promoter but lacked the talent to lead. She did not understand the resources that she had or the people she was leading and she was a flop. Sarah Palin is glitter without content as well.

Could it be that this is what McCain likes in women.

Posted by: Jerry Mander | September 24, 2008 1:56 AM | Report abuse

It makes me chuckle to see that Ms. Fiorina is a role model. I’m a systems engineer by trade, and in my profession, Fiorina is widely considered to be a bust as CEO of HP. Her major accomplishment there was to push through an ill-conceived merger with Compaq. Since these two companies were pretty much direct competitors (Compaq didn’t do much of anything that HP wasn’t already doing), the merger didn’t result in much expedited business integration, and the hoped-for efficiencies of scale (created mainly by outsourcing most of HP’s product support) were a disappointment. The underperforming financial results led to Fiorina’s firing in 2005 (to the tune of a $21 million severance package).

Fiorina was also criticized for trashing the previous HP culture, and alienating the Hewlett family and HP employees that weren’t loyal to her. In short, she was accused of elevating cronies and punishing critics. Much of her notoriety seemed to stem from her gender, as she was famously the first female CEO of a “Dow Jones” company, and often appeared in their advertisements. If she was male, she’d hardly have attracted much admiration based on her performance.

Come to think of it, I guess Fiorina is a sort of role model for Sarah Palin.

Posted by: Computer tech | September 24, 2008 12:25 AM | Report abuse

They fired this bimbo for crissakes!!! Paid her 42 Million to get lost....And this is our childrens role model???

Posted by: Perry | September 23, 2008 11:49 PM | Report abuse

Hoot, I like it - let's call Websters and ask them to change their thesaurus -

The term "Republican" is equivalent to the terms "moron" AND "liar".

Liar is maybe even better than moron.

Posted by: Rick | September 23, 2008 11:06 PM | Report abuse

McCain has stopped even trying to pretend he is not a pig.

Yeah, role model, who walked away/got kicked out with 42 million, while causing 20,000 lay offs.

Not to mention she was spying on the board members. So I guess she fits right in with the McCain Cheney group.

Posted by: Pillai | September 23, 2008 10:51 PM | Report abuse

No doubt McCain could surround himself with total morons and republican's would still vote for him.

It is becoming widely recognized that "moron" is synonymous with republican.

Posted by: Hoot | September 23, 2008 10:51 PM | Report abuse

She's not a role model for me. I could care less what she did at that company. People like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama inspire me. They care more about others than they do themselves.

Posted by: Bonnie | September 23, 2008 10:33 PM | Report abuse

Mommy, when I grow up, I want to destroy a huge company and walk away with millions of dollars while thousands of my employees lose their jobs. Oh yeah, and I want to become an adviser to a presidential candidate who has clearly lost his marbles, plus his running mate who never had any to begin with. And I want to become a nonstop gaffe factory. When I grow up, I want to be just like Carly Fiorina!

Posted by: ASinMoCo | September 23, 2008 10:30 PM | Report abuse

"I believe that Carly Fiorina is a role model to millions of young Americans," McCain said as he fondly remembered the many romantic trysts he and Carly had in the back of the campaign plane.

Posted by: HP=Hockey Puck | September 23, 2008 10:30 PM | Report abuse

> They sure have kept Carly under wraps... much like Sarah.

At this point, they're keeping McCain _himself_ under wraps. Just read this:

Posted by: JakeD | September 23, 2008 10:28 PM | Report abuse

Carly and Sarah---what role models!

Posted by: Jackie | September 23, 2008 10:27 PM | Report abuse

McCain is Bush or worse. He will say anything to win an argument
and we don't need another fool that will drive the car into a ditch over, and over and over and over and over until he break the american will.

Posted by: circus monkey | September 23, 2008 10:14 PM | Report abuse

Lets face it McCain is so out of touch with the mainstream until its quit scary.

Anyone that can vote for him deserve bad luck for four years.

Posted by: brock101 | September 23, 2008 10:09 PM | Report abuse

"I believe that Carly Fiorina is a role model to millions of young Americans,"

Yeah John - and Carly almost single-handedly turned turned one of America's greatest corporations, one that was famous for innovation and for flawless quality and durability of products, into yet another purveyor of semi-functional crap, moved manufacturing overseas and even treats disgruntled consumers to tech support based in Bangalore.

Keep her and your sorry excuse for judgment. Wow - I can't wait to see who you'd like to appoint to the Court - we thought Harriet Myers was the bottom, but I have complete faith that you can surpass that!

Posted by: Fr3dmars | September 23, 2008 10:08 PM | Report abuse

rising up from a lowly part-time secretary to wreck a multi-national corporation
This will be kind of what Palin will do to the country if she gets to the office?

Posted by: thor | September 23, 2008 10:01 PM | Report abuse

Gosh, fired and walks away with 42 million. I would say that really is a Republican role model.

Posted by: hmmmmmer | September 23, 2008 10:00 PM | Report abuse

Look at these pictures to see all the "good" Mr. Obama did for Chicago slums(I mean developer buddies) as "Community Organizer"....

"Grove Parc and several other prominent failures were developed and managed by Obama’s close friends and political supporters. Those people profited from the subsidies even as many of Obama’s constituents suffered. Tenants lost their homes; surrounding neighborhoods were blighted."

Hey, maybe he can do the SAME TO G*D D*MN AMERICA WHILE HE'S AT IT!!

Posted by: Kevin | September 23, 2008 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Very, very true, Kay. The good news is after this administration gets done, she may not be able to make things any worse if she tried.

Posted by: ManUnitdFan | September 23, 2008 9:43 PM | Report abuse

Obama was right. This guy is a dumb as a box of hammers.
He just doesn't get it.
No wonder he finished at the bottom of his class at Annapolis.
Thank God he married a rich woman (The hallmark of many successful republicans.)
This is one taxpayer that isn't going to let my tax money go to the a**holes that ran the economy into the ground. I'll cheat on my taxes just like my republican friend does. She has never paid taxes.

Posted by: tomcat3 | September 23, 2008 9:40 PM | Report abuse

Rofl ... LIAR ... McCain is worse than Henry Hill in the Music Man. A flim flam man caught by a pretty gal. Right -- golden parachutes for THEM -- Bad! Golden parachutes for our gal ... GOOD! What a moron. And his veep choice isn't far behind... check out this hilarious video:

Posted by: Did I mention I'm a LIAR??? | September 23, 2008 9:37 PM | Report abuse

Carly's a role model. Yeah, and I am the Prince of Siam.

Please, this individual ran HP into the ground, and for her efforts she gets $42M. Is this a great country or what? Kill a company and get paid . . . isn't that what the $700B bailout is about?

Posted by: McCain's Pain | September 23, 2008 9:27 PM | Report abuse

ManUntdFan wrote: "someday you too can get your golden parachute and ride off into the sunset."

Unfortunately, if doddering old McCain gets into the White House, guess who will be the next Secretary of the Treasury?

Posted by: Kay Decker | September 23, 2008 9:26 PM | Report abuse

She's truly the embodiment of the American Dream: rising up from a lowly part-time secretary to wreck a multi-national corporation. What a role model for us all. If you work hard, someday you too can get your golden parachute and ride off into the sunset.

Posted by: ManUnitdFan | September 23, 2008 9:23 PM | Report abuse

Curious that McCain just put his "role model" in some sort of witness protection program, just because she said that Sarah wasn't competent to run a big public company. And in trying to recoup, she said that McCain wasn't either.

So, while Carly was one of the few people available to the press during the 40 days that John and Sarah were not available (are we supposed to think they were in the desert?), now -- nobody is!

Oh, no, John came out for a completely scripted and unoriginal round of nonsense.

Sarah, of course was MIA. You remember the term, John -- missing in action?

Posted by: Helen | September 23, 2008 9:12 PM | Report abuse

I think Carly would be a great VP choice for McCain. Maybe Co-VPs for a three way ticket? That's never been done.

Posted by: DonJulio | September 23, 2008 9:12 PM | Report abuse

This is an excerpt from a recent NYT piece on Fiorina - not exactly that flattering - note how she takes credit for all of the good things that happend at HP after she was fired. This woman is a complete and utter joke! The kicker is the following quote from Yale B-school's associate dean about her -

“You couldn’t pick a worse, non-imprisoned C.E.O. to be your standard-bearer.”

"In turn, a number of Republicans say Ms. Fiorina is using the McCain campaign to rebuild her image after her explosive tenure at Hewlett-Packard. They also say it is hard to see why a woman widely criticized for mismanaging one of Silicon Valley’s legendary companies is advising and representing a candidate who acknowledged last year that he did not understand the economy as well as he should.

“Well, see, the good news about business is, results count,” Ms. Fiorina, 53, responded briskly in a recent interview in her office at Republican National Committee headquarters on Capitol Hill. “And the results have been very clear. The results have been crystal clear. From the day I was fired, every quarter, even before they had a new C.E.O., has been record after record. That doesn’t happen unless the foundation’s been built.”

Opinion is still split on whether Ms. Fiorina or her successor as chief executive, Mark V. Hurd, deserve credit for Hewlett’s success after Ms. Fiorina drove through the company’s $25 billion acquisition of Compaq in 2002. By many accounts, Ms. Fiorina was superb at marketing, mixed on strategy, bad at execution — and extraordinarily successful in unifying the board against what Jeffrey A. Sonnenfeld of the Yale School of Management calls her “street bully” leadership style.

“What a blind spot this is in the McCain campaign to have elevated her stature and centrality in this way,” said Mr. Sonnenfeld, the senior associate dean for executive programs at the management school and one of Ms. Fiorina’s sharpest critics. “You couldn’t pick a worse, non-imprisoned C.E.O. to be your standard-bearer.”

Posted by: Anonymous | September 23, 2008 9:08 PM | Report abuse

Jim Johnson and Franklin Raines were both CEOs of Fannie Mae (NOT Freddie Mac). They are also frequent targets of the Right. Leland Brendsel ruled Freddie Mac during the days of pilfering at the public trough. Let's get it straight, eh?

Posted by: Rick | September 23, 2008 9:02 PM | Report abuse

Nearly every CEO in Silicon Valley thought that Carly was in over her head and totally incompetent.

Just the qualifications John McCain is looking for - fortunately for Carly and not to fortunate for the rest of us.

Posted by: Mark | September 23, 2008 9:00 PM | Report abuse

Anonymous wrote: "Kay, $40M would put a little dent in the $7B in bailout money Fannie/Freddie are getting. Perhaps Obama can contribute the $200K he got in contributions from them."

Yes, it would put a very, very, very small dent -- actually 6/1000th of a percent, to be precise -- in the bailout fund for Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae ... except that the money would be going back to the shareholders, which are the people that paid those severance packages in the first place. So, using the same logic, Carly Fiorina should be repaying her severance package to HP's shareholders to make reparations for the financial problems she created for HP and its shareholders.

Posted by: Kay Decker | September 23, 2008 8:49 PM | Report abuse


$40M would put a little dent in the $7B in bailout money Fannie/Freddie are getting. Perhaps Obama can contribute the $200K he got in contributions from them.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 23, 2008 8:38 PM | Report abuse


Patricia Dunn wiretapped the HP board not Carly Fiorina. Get your facts straight.

Also, I don't see HP being bailed out by the government, unlike Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac. Obama is up to his ears in the Fannie and Freddie Debacle.

Posted by: NickinVA | September 23, 2008 8:30 PM | Report abuse

OF COURSE she is a McCain role model. Made CEO of a corporation with every kind of reputation for good, innovative management style, she tried to make it into a giant sweat shop. Having THE great name in all kind of electronics she dumped the Real HP so she could put the HP logo on Compaq quality computers. She aggravated the whole corporate culture at HP, and they paid her $45 million to leave. For HP it was probably worth it, so in essence she earned that $45 million, but not in a positive way.

Just what John needs for his administration, another big name good at making large organizations much less effective under her guidance. A true Republican leader in the Reagan/Bush/Bush mold.

Make sure that the government doesn't work so your people can complain about ineffective government.

And remember, John has lots of Fiorina's waiting in the wings to take over DOJ and DOD and State and HHS, and the GESTAPO, ahd FEMA and NIH and CDC and FDA.

Posted by: | September 23, 2008 8:29 PM | Report abuse

And she laid off 20,000 people after her merger with Compaq, and got a $5 million bonus for doing the merger... if I'm remembering correctly; you might want to factcheck this.

Posted by: Jon404 | September 23, 2008 8:27 PM | Report abuse

Pamela wrote: "I think McCain is TRYING to lose this election."

You can hardly blame the man. I was just thinking today, "Who in the world would want to inherit all these problems? The next President will face a host of seemingly insurmountable woes that will take every bit of his 8 years to fix. And whatever does get fixed, he won't get credit for it." So I really have to wonder who in the world would want such a lousy job?

Posted by: Kay Decker | September 23, 2008 8:12 PM | Report abuse

I think McCain is TRYING to lose this election.

Posted by: Pamela | September 23, 2008 8:09 PM | Report abuse

This is the same woman that hired a private firm to wire tap her own board of directors and employees while at HP. I guess that is being a role model if you're a republican.

Posted by: Aaron | September 23, 2008 8:09 PM | Report abuse

yeah, great role model for other pompous asses

Posted by: haha | September 23, 2008 8:02 PM | Report abuse

Carly Fiorina is hoping for a job in a McCain administration. Having failed spectacularly in a corporate job with measurable performance (She reduced HP's value by nearly half.), she's apparently sucking up to McCain for a government job where performance measures are much weaker, if performance can be measured at all.

Fiorina has more arrogance than business or leadership acumen. I watched HP employees go from excitement at having their first female CEO, to sheer anger at what she was doing to the company. Finally the board threw her out, and her successor immediately turned the company profitable.

Posted by: tom | September 23, 2008 8:02 PM | Report abuse

Looks like Joe Biden has not been reading the campaign's briefing books. Read about his latest gaffe in my blog:

Posted by: Anonymous | September 23, 2008 7:59 PM | Report abuse

Oh, brother! Has John McCain lost his mind? I don't even ask that question in jest. I seriously want to know what is organically wrong with the man that he can espouse such nonsensical gibberish? More and more, it is becoming painfully clear that John McCain has very little grasp of what is going on in the world these days. Instead of trying to resolve the financial crisis facing every American, McCain is only tring to gain political points by demanding that $40 million be returned to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac ... it wouldn't even be going back into the Treasury! Yeah, John, that will solve the entire crisis. Good work, John. Now go home and grab a nap. A nice long one. Might I suggest until January 22, 2009?

Posted by: Kay Decker | September 23, 2008 7:54 PM | Report abuse

Carly Fiorina is a role model for millions of young Americans who can dream of someday being fired from their jobs and walking away with $42 million of shareholders' money.

Posted by: John Brisker | September 23, 2008 7:53 PM | Report abuse

McCain mispoke. Actually, Fiorina ended up being fired from her job as CEO by one of the major corporations in America, and walking away with $45 million that came out of shareholders' pockets.There's absolutely no difference between her and Franklin Raines, except that she got more money.

Posted by: Patrick | September 23, 2008 7:51 PM | Report abuse

42 m$ buyout. Shes my hero!

They sure have kept Carly underwraps...much like Sarah.

Posted by: WOW | September 23, 2008 7:48 PM | Report abuse

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