Fiorina-Boxer matchup gets catty quickly thanks to open mic
Many political watchers noted after Tuesday’s elections that 2010, perhaps even more than 2008, was the “year of the woman” for female political candidates. I noted in a piece for Slate that:
[Barbara Boxer and Carly Fiorina] are two women, each a groundbreaker in her own way, fighting fair. And when we look back, this may be more the Year of the Woman than 2008 was: a year when dozens of women from all over the political spectrum behaved not all that differently from men.
Similarly, Anne Kornblut wrote in the Washington Post that gender was rarely an issue in campaigns where prominent women were running:
Tuesday’s elections put on display the increasing diversity of female candidates, as well as their growing resilience.
But it only took a day for the most high-profile race involving women to turn into a sort-of catfight, with one woman bashing another over petty appearance issues like an outdated haircut. Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett Packard who on Tuesday won the GOP nomination to challenge incumbent California Sen. Barbara Boxer, was caught on an open mic gossiping about her opponent, as well as GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman. Reports CNN:
“God, what is that hair?” a laughing Fiorina said, while quoting a friend who had recently seen Boxer on television. “So yesterday.”
Fiorina also questioned why Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman had decided to go on Sean Hannity’s show the day after winning her party’s primary.
“It’s really surprising that on the first day of the general [election], Meg Whitman is going on Sean Hannity,” she said. “I think it’s bizarre…I think it’s a very bad choice actually. You know how he is.”
In a recent Wall Street Journal magazine profile of Fiorina, the reporter wrote that the candidate treated her as if the two were “old girlfriends” and also mentioned that Fiorina acted like a giddy “high school girl” in a phone conversation with her husband – but it seems like if Fiorina does indeed tend to act like a schoolgirl, it’s of the Mean Girl variety.
Sure, Fiorina’s remarks were pretty harmless – but she herself complained about people’s reaction to her hair in a New York Times profile, telling reporter Frank Bruni that a supporter had complained about her close-cropped hair and told her she looked like a “Left-wing radical” – apparently not knowing she’d recently undergone chemotherapy.
If Fiorina is going to use her own hair for sympathy, it’d probably be best not to mock her opponent’s. And, like I said, thought it was a pretty insignificant gaffe, any further cattiness might serve to confirm what some already worry is the case with a self-financed candidate who has shown virtually no earlier interest in politics: That her campaign is all about her own vanity.