Monthly Archives: October 2008

Oprah’s Gamble On Obama: the gift that will keep on giving …

scaling campaign heights without protective gear.

Oprah Winfrey: scaling campaign heights without protective gear.

When Oprah said she was “feeling Obama”, the country should have believed her. But what she did with that was clearly a gamble. However seventeen months later the gamble is beginning to look more and more like a gift, and one that will keep on giving long after the dust settles on this fractious election. The upshot?: The queen of talk was onto something before the rest of the country caught on. Americans love winners and ….. and people who back them.

The talk about Oprah being being appointed U.S. Ambassador to Britain is as premature as it is misplaced. The payoff has more to do with fingering a real contender, win or lose.

At the time of Oprah’s endorsement on 5/1/07, Oprah did not convince a lot of people, beyond her fans that is. And even among her fans, she did alienate a few, beyond ruffling a few feathers on the right of the political spectrum. Leaving her customary soap box was a huge financial gamble and a bit of a stretch. The sight of her trying to rile up the masses from the height of a campaign podium felt, looked and sounded strange, on so many levels. Her stamp of approval of Obama did not the convince fence sitters. Her preoccupation with self-help fads and the culture of confession as therapy, swelled the ranks of those who were skeptical about her. Her new age leanings and the substance, if not the demographics, of her book club did similar damage to her credibility. Some people remembered Oprah’s mawkish endorsement of James Frey’s “A Million Pieces” which, on short order, turned to be as bogus as Jayson Blair’s New York Times reports. And as L.A. Times reader B. J. put it, “Her embrace of “The Secret” and the “New Age Jesus” writings of Eckhart Tolle … alienated religious conservatives.”

So the long and short of it is that while Oprah’s endorsement unquestionably helped Obama, it did little to persuade fence-sitters. The only dent in this wall of skepticism was the Democratic National Convention of 2004, when the lanky Senator had made a ringing speech that electrified the country and forced many Democrats and Republicans alike to sit up and take notice. In other words, Obama was Obama before Oprah met Obama. What Oprah did with her endorsement and the 2008 election approaching, was make people put an mental stick-it note next to the name of Barak Obama. Time Magazine took note and queries about Obama on Google sky-rocketed.

The primary/caucus season lent credence to Oprah’s choice and more recent polls are cumulatively chiselling it into stone. The country is witnessing the emergence of a political rock star the likes of which has not been seen since John Fitzgerald Kennedy, and Oprah’s name is tatooed somewhere on his arm.

Barack Obama Superstar - Before est. 75 thousand people, Portland, OR on  May 18, 2008

Barack Obama Superstar- Portland, OR on May 18, 2008

“It is entirely possible that no one could have beaten the political force known as Barack Obama — under any circumstances.” (Kathleen Parker, conservative political columnist, Washington Post)

John McCain and the Second Fall of Carly Fiorina – Part 2

Carly Fiorina now

Carly Fiorina now

During the waning years of the high tech bubble I knew of a guy who worked for Hewlett Packard in Silicon Valley. He hated Carly Fiorina (the then embattled Hewlett Packard Chairman of the Board), …… And so did everyone he knew among his peers. This kind of disaffection was anecdotal. But what was not anecdotal was the way Fiorina was shown the door by the revered company’s board after earnings had stagnated and the company had lost thousands of employees through lay-offs and resignations. What has also not been anecdotal of late is the way Fiorina has been deep sixed by the McCain campaign after pulling a gaffe worthy of Senator Joe Biden.

What has been fundamentally disturbing, is the way Fiorina’s ambitions have led her to sell out on the principles of competency and professionalism she truculently propounds. She would have won the respect of friends and foes alike, if she had just resigned from the McCain campaign on principle, following the appointment of Governor Sarah Palin – a fledgling politico who, in the words of Matt Damon, could neither square off with a Putin or run this country should things come to that. Carly would have been flying high in the minds of many had she drawn that line in the sand and walked away. But no, like Senator McCain and all of the hired hacks she battened down the hatches and tried to defend the indefensible. That decision to stay reduced her from the high-flying executive of her own legend to just another hired impolitical hack. Ironically, the same naked ambition that prevented Sarah Palin from saying no to John McCain’s vice presidential nod, stopped Carly from telling it like it is and walking away while her stock was still hot.

But in the end, it was Carly’s overweening hubris that did her in. People who are full of themselves sometimes don’t not know that, and to that extent they are incapable of assessing themselves in ways that can head-off the kind of diplomatic faux pas Fiorina got herself caught up in. Had Fiorina been in touch with her own attitudes of superiority, and the sensitivities of the McCain campaign, she would have carefully weighed the issue of Palin’s shortcomings before the fact and been in a position to respond to media questions in the most diplomatic of ways. This would have been the anti-dote to the kind of tone-deafness she exhibited in that KTRS Radio interview. Nancy Pfotenhauer(another McCain Senior Policy Advisor), who appears confused most of the time, excels at a smiley-rope-a-dope style of engagement that ruffles few, if no feathers.

Now as I write this, Carly Fiorina is out of a high-profile job sans the $21 million severance pay she got from Hewlett Packard in 2005. What she claims to have transcended  in the historical  instance has again happened to her: a firing in the most public of ways and a press that is having a field day with it. And some of peasants with pitchforks she raked over the coals are wondering how it feels  to be thrown under the bus for the second time in her life.

© Cyberaxis 2008


In new ad, Fiorina slams Boxer’s “arrogance” (Upshot – Yahoo – Reporting on the 2010 Senatorial race between Carly Fiorina and Barbara Boxer) Aah, the richness of this.

Sample comment for reader of the article:

When I found out that Fiorina was the Repubs candidate I couldn’t believe it. Anybody that was around during Clueless Carly’s reign of terror at H-P should know she hasn’t got the sense to fix a Kleenex box. The only reason she’s running for office is because nobody in the private sector will give her a job. ( Mark H 29 minutes ago 09/24/10)

With intense pressure on McCain-Palin, Sarah starts blowing off handlers

With just over a week to go and poll numbers ranging from middling to dismal, there is a lot of pressure on the McCain campaign. By some reports, the finger pointing has already begun, as pessimism about the ticket’s prospects on November begins to take a hold.

An increasingly head-strong Palin free-styling on the stump

Anatomy of a campaign in disarray: An increasingly head-strong Palin free-styling on the stump.

In the wake of what appears to be a collective premonition, Palin is reported to be blowing off  senior handlers from the Bush re-election campaign in favor of unchaperoned interactions with the press. A report from the website, says that she has even ventured “off the reservation” on some policy issues like the new Democrat-driven stimulus package and the more recent fruit fly and autism research gaffe in which she mocked the funding autism research using fruit flies. (An incredulous viewer of Palin’s Youtube clip described her as a Democrat’s wet dream in this respect, citing how he learnt of the importance of fruit flies to scientific research, even as a kid. But even more substantive is an independent story that has been floating around the internet since about 9/13/08 citing discoveries made in Drosophilia fruit flies that may lead to advances in understanding autism spectrum disorders via a protein called neurexin. Palin’s uninformed policy speech was on 10/24/08. If she had done her her homework, she would have kept mum about fruit fly research or it least made a more informed stab at it.)

The report by Ben Smith suggests that, with a small but vocal group of supporters behind her, Palin may already be looking past the 2008 campaign to 2012. But there is reason to doubt that Sarah Palin’s political career is salvageable beyond the bounds of Alaska, but even that is not a given. Her political career and McCain’s presidential aspirations may be headed to the same political graveyard.

Another blog, CNN’s “Political Ticker”, quotes a McCain source as saying that Governor Palin appears to now be looking out for herself more than the McCain campaign. Oi vai!

The best piece of advice that can be given to Governor Palin at this point would be to not look past an Oprah-esque talk show for right-wing soccer moms on Fox Cable. Remember, your heard it here folks.

John McCain and the Second Fall of Carly Fiorina

Carly Fiorina is her own worst enemy, and if her latest fall from grace with the septuagenarian from Arizona is anything to go by, we will have to say she never learned anything from her 2005 firing at Hewlett Packard. Fiorina who came to the revered Silicon valley firm on the coat-tails of her success at Lucent Technologies, blew her success and goodwill capital through her spotlight-hogging ways and a number of decisions that culminated in the controversial acquisition of Compaq and lackluster growth following the purchase. Reports say she was hated at HP for her prickly hauteur, apparent disregard for some sacred cows at HP and a tone-deaf way of dealing with superiors, peers and minions.

McCain who should have done his homework before hiring Fiorina, deep-sixed the faux blonde last month after she blabbed that she didn’t think, vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, was qualified to run a big corporation like Hewlett Packard. The incidental admission came, on the 9/16/08 McGraw Milhaven Show on St. Louis KTRS Radio.


“Do you think [Sarah Palin] has the experience to run a major company, like Hewlett Packard?” asked the host.

“No, I don’t,” responded Fiorina. “But you know what? That’s not what she’s running for.”

Trying to hedge her bets, Fiorina goes on to state:

“I find it quite stunning actually that the Barack Obama campaign is questioning Sarah Palin’s experience,” she said. “She has more executive experience than he does and she is the vice presidential nominee and he is the presidential nominee.”

Fiorina’s candor, partly justified by fact, just cut too close to the bone? But did she realize that at the time? Did she have an ear for how that would play in campaign headquarters or did she harbor some hidden resentment for Palin’s appointment to a position that had been rumored to be possibly available to her?

FACT: Characters as abrasively ambitious as Sarah Palin and Carly Fiorina cannot co-exist on the same stage for extended periods of time.

Part II of this post can be found here: John McCain and the Second Fall of Carly Fiorina Part 2.


These women might have too much baggage (Eleanor Clift, Newsweek)