Interviewer: "Do you think Sarah Palin has the experience to run a major company, like Hewlett-Packard?"
Carly Fiorina: "No, I don't. But you know what? That's not what she's running for."
That response by Fiorina, herself the former CEO of HP and an initial contender for McCain's running mate, would have been just another glib off-the-cuff remark - if she wasn't one of McCain's top advisors and spokespeople.
She made that gaff on St. Louis radio station KTRS yesterday - and, fairly obviously, realized that she'd put her foot in her mouth. So, during another interview, an hour later with NBC's Andrea Mitchell, she tried to explain the above remark in more detail by saying, "Well, I don't think John McCain could run a major corporation. I don't think Barack Obama could run a major corporation. I don't think Joe Biden could. But that's not the same as being the president or vice president of the United States."
Predictably Obama's campaign wonks went bugshit crazy over that remark, and by a number of accounts McCain himself was furious with Fiorina.
But wait, it gets better - McCain's top economic advisor, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, in an effort to address questions regarding McCain's economic and technical knowledge, basically claimed in front of the world yesterday that John McCain invented the Blackberry.
Oh hell yes, this campaign is nothing if not entertaining. Who'd have thought that that John "I was a POW Goddamnit!" McCain and Al "bunnies, and trees and rainbows, oh my" Gore would have something in common? Who says there isn't hope for a bipartisan government? I tell you, when the pinnacle of conservative economic business technology connects seamlessly over the liberal Internet, when John and Al have something in common, well it just gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling all over. And frankly, the thought of liberals looking at their Blackberries with sudden horror, or conservatives suddenly realizing that their communication device is connecting over the Daily-Kos powered Internet give me more than a touch of glee.
Now, obviously (at least it's obvious to me) neither Fiorina or Holtz-Eakin meant their words the way they were taken - but taking sound bites out of context is an old and approved campaign tactic and people like Fiorina and Holtz-Eakin should have known better than to make impromptu remarks.
Fiorina is correct, mostly - the president of the United States is not the same as the CEO of a major company. Alas, maybe our economy would be better if it were. But I do understand where she was coming from with that statement (truthfully, HP's board of directors didn't think Fiorina was able to run HP either, so they ditched her, which you know, kind of makes her an expert, just saying). But seriously, what the hell was she thinking? Talk about a case of uncontrolled verbal diarrhea - help me! I can't stop!
And Holtz-Eakin wasn't actually saying that John McCain personally invented the tool Palin uses like a crack addict (seriously, have you seen that woman's thumbs? I'll bet she could bench press a lipstick covered pitbull with those mitts), any more than Al Gore actually claimed that he personally invented the Internet. Holtz-Eakin was trying to make the point that McCain chaired the Senate Commerce Committee and helped to create a climate of technology based economic growth - i.e. McCain is both technologically and economically savvy. That's what he meant but that's not what he said, and he's been around long enough to know better.
When you're a spokesman, you stick to the script. If you deviate from the approved talking points, especially in campaign politics, you are absolutely guaranteed to end up ass deep in starving alligators.
And McCain himself isn't immune - he and Palin have both engaged in some serious truth stretching if not outright falsehoods. But, yesterday McCain said, "I was Chairman of the Commerce Committee that oversees every part of our economy." Well, no, that's just plain wrong. The Senate Commerce Committee doesn't oversee a couple of critical portions of our economic foundation, in fact by law the committee is excluded from addressing credit, financial services, and housing finance. Those things are the purview of the Senate Banking Committee - and they are the very things that are right now crashing and burning. McCain might want to think twice about claiming to be part of the process that led directly to the current economic meltdown, or to claim knowledge and experience in areas where he clearly has none.
Both campaigns are scrambling - Obama to take advantage of the GOP's hoof and mouth outbreak, and McCain's people are jumping to damage control stations.
But in between chuckles I'm feeling a ominous foreboding.
If these are the types of advisors John McCain has running his campaign, who does he plan to listen to once he actually is in charge of the economy? And if Obama is the type of person to revel in sound bites taken out of context, clearly out of context, deliberately out of context, what kind of leader and role model will he be?
And suddenly things aren't so funny, are they?