The XX Factor

Carly Fiorina Will Steal All Your Gender Cards

Carly Fiorina in Washington in 2013.

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

After running a lengthy shadow campaign, former Hewlett-Packard CEO and sheep demonizer Carly Fiorina has formally announced her presidential candidacy. Among the growing crowd of no-chance-in-hell Republican contenders, Fiorina stands out not just because of her gender, her obsession with Hillary Clinton (which my colleague Josh Voorhees detailed Monday morning), or for her remarkable lack of basic Internet aptitude, despite being a former tech executive—looks like she forgot to register, which someone lifted to illustrate how many people she laid off at Hewlett-Packard.

Fiorina also distinguishes herself from the pack because her pitch to voters is uniquely incoherent. Rand Paul is the Wannabe Libertarian Guy. Marco Rubio is the Young Guy. Ted Cruz is the Obama-of-the-Christian-Right Guy. Jeb Bush is the Guy Who Will Win the Nomination Guy. 

And Fiorina is, by her own account, the woman in the race who will stand up against those who want you to vote for the other woman in the race. 

In recent months, Fiorina has shown that the only thing she loves more than deriding those who play the “gender card” is playing the gender card. Oh, how she hates that gender card, telling the National Journal that Clinton “will play the gender card over and over again, which is unfortunate but predictable.” The gender card is a dirty move that brings shame onto all those who play it!

All those except for Carly Fiorina. “If Hillary Clinton were to face a female nominee, there are a whole set of things that she won’t be able to talk about,” Fiorina told reporters in April. “She won’t be able to talk about being the first woman president. She won’t be able to talk about a war on women without being challenged. She won’t be able to play the gender card.” No she won’t, because I, Carly Fiorina, will play it for her!

Hypocrisy aside, Fiorina’s entire pitch is also based on a false premise, which is that being female gives politicians some kind of novel advantage—a notion easily disabused by a Congress that’s more than 80 percent male and a 100 percent male presidency. In American politics, if anyone’s been playing a gender card for the last 239 years, it’s been men.