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Why I am not impressed with Fiorina’s impressive words

During Wednesday’s Republican debate Carly Fiorina made a very strong and powerful condemnation of Planned Parenthood, based on what she described was contained in the very ugly undercover videos of that organization and its officials. You can watch her full statement here, but the key lines are these:

As regards Planned Parenthood, anyone who has watched this videotape, I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama to watch these tapes. Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.

Not surprisingly, there has been a kerfuffle on the web between the left and the right on whether Fiorina was accurately describing what was on the videos. Many liberal news sites have noted, quite accurately, that none of those videos show exactly what Fiorina describes, while this story tries to fact check both her words and the liberal challenges to her, concluding that in essence the tapes did show something akin to what Fiorina described, but not exactly.

This debate however misses the point. Yes, Fiorina was getting the essense right. The videos do show a despicable organization whose officials are quite willing to harvest the body parts of newly born babies for profit. But this is not what I found significant about Fiorina’s statement.

When I watched this clip from the debate, my first thought was that it clearly demonstrated that Fiorina herself had not personally watched the tapes. In one breath she challenges Obama and Clinton to watch them, while in the very next breath she describes something that isn’t actually on the tapes, as she describes it, demonstrating that she has formed her opinions of these videos from hearsay or from a very superficial quick scan of them. While I agree with her about Planned Parenthood and what these videos prove about that organization, I found her statement very revealing. It told me that her knowledge on this subject is superficial with her opinions formed from hearsay evidence.

I found myself at that moment very unimpressed with Fiorina as a candidate. She might have the right principles, but her willingness to base her opinions on incomplete information and then demand that others agree with her I found very disappointing. The candidate the Republicans choose has got to be someone who is rock solid, with no sloppiness about his or her approach to the facts. With this one soundbite, however, Fiorina demonstrated to me that she is not rock solid, and can be sloppy. This is not a candidate I want running for President.


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  • Frank

    I would need to watch them and then listen again to what she said for me to make that judgment. How do you know that she did not watch the tapes? I’ve heard others, all on the left, make that assertion too.

  • Cotour

    Have all of the videos been released? I have to assume that Project Veritas is saving the most disturbing videos for later in the election cycle or budget negotiations. Might she have seen or be aware of an even more disturbing video than has been previously released?

  • I watched the specific tape in question and, as noted at the link I provided, it does not show what she describes, a living fetus which is about to be carved up for body parts. Instead, the tape shows an interview with a former Planned Parenthood worker describing this.

    The point is that Fiorina acted as if the tape showed it, which it did not. Unlike the left, I am not asserting that Planned Parenthood did nothing wrong by noting this. I am merely asserting that, from Fiorina’s own words, she revealed that she really didn’t view those tapes herself. Or if she did, she did not view the specific tape in question.

  • 1. These tapes are not from Project Veritas. James O’Keefe has nothing to do with them. If you watched any of them you would know this.

    2. 10 videos have been released. As noted at the link, none show exactly what she described, though several contain solid evidence that what she describes has happened.

    3. If she is aware of even more disturbing tapes, which I doubt, she should have made that clear as well in her comments. She did not.

    Bottom line: Just because she is selling herself has a hardcore conservative does not mean we, as voters, have to check our skepticism at the door. She is a politician. She must not be trusted, ever. If she, or any of them, show a tendency for dishonesty we must note it bluntly, and log it as a factor in making our decisions in the election booth.

  • Keith

    I watched her comments a couple of times. I don’t think she actually said that the baby kicking, etc, was on a video. I think she said watch the video, hear them say what they do. Then in a separate sentence, she says baby laying there etcetera.

    So, in that sense she’s just like every other politician, where you have to parse her words so carefully to understand what she did or didn’t say. It reminds me of Bill Clinton and his “depends on what the meaning of “is” is.

    Perhaps I have a future as a political spin meister myself!

  • I freely grant your point, but I also think it proves mine. I don’t like Bill Clinton-type politicians. I find them fundamentally dishonest, corrupting, and insulting to my intelligence. That you have to parse Fiorina’s comments so carefully to find a way to make them accurate, and thus she reminds you of Clinton, once again does not recommend her to me. I prefer authentic honesty, which I also recognize is very hard to get from any politician. In the end, I take what I can get. Along thre way however I try to lend support to those whose honesty I find more trustworthy.

  • Cotour

    Your sounding more and more like an eventual Trump supporter if your looking for flat out “truth”.

    And no, I have not watched these videos I have only seen clips from a few of them, that’s enough for me. I have never watched movies like Halloween or Silence Of The Lambs, I will not watch ISIS videos of people being beheaded or burned to death either and that is what these videos sound like to me. But I do not doubt that they exist in reality.

    There are lines and along with lines goes pushing those lines beyond where they were meant to be because the lines are drawn in politics and they have been allowed to be monetized. You might have a hard time selling a movie script with these infant body part sales angles, its too extreme for fiction, only in reality will you find it.

    Fiorina is in the process of defining and distinguishing herself in the political world so she may take some liberties with her statements, although I am not sure that she meets your standard for flat out deception in this instance of her relaying second hand information. Do I doubt that what she heard second hand could have been true? NO, not for one second! Have you ever heard the name Kermit Gosnell?

    Fiorinas as will the rest of the potential candidates trial by fire will continue and we will see who is made of what.

    Never trust any of them to extent that they would suggest you trust them so your paranoia about honesty is well placed but be rest assured Jesus will never be among any of the candidates that we will be choosing from.

  • “Your [sic] sounding more and more like an eventual Trump supporter if your looking for flat out ‘truth’.”

    Actually the more I hear from Trump, the more I dislike him. All he really does is pander blatently to his audience. Nothing he says is real, it is just what he thinks will generate the most support.

  • D.K. Williams

    Fiorina is an excellent public speaker. I am not impressed by her business acumen as I followed her career from the time she took over HP. I am also concerned about reports of her relationships with Islamic groups. Neither, for me, is a deal-breaker yet. It’s more likely for her to be selected as a VP candidate than win the GOP nomination.

  • Cotour

    First you have to get the job, people viscerally connect with his bumper sticker type messages.

    I freely admit that he will have to begin to fill in the voids with real substance in the coming months in order to be successful and I believe he will do that. It will be a challenge over the remaining time left in the campaign to remain in the dominant position. But the secret to a successful bumper sticker is that when people hear or read it they find truth and connect with it, so if truth is your metric Trump is right there.

    One of my basic tests for a candidate is to see if they speak at all about the Constitution and Trump seems to be the only one who is willing to straight out make a statement, specifically on the Second Amendment. I think his statement is worded a bit softly by design related to why the Second Amendment exists but his statement is strong and flat out, the Second Amendment is key to our country’s existence.

    The trial by fire goes on.

  • John

    Her words were precisely correct. Precision counts. You and the media in general have elected to assign a meaning to her statement that the precision of her words does not carry. This is, on your part, a common and very human misunderstanding, as communication is a tricky activity. However, to assign to her the intention to mislead is unwarranted in my view. After a careful review, I do not see a hidden and dark meaning lurking beneath the elegance of her statement. The press appears to have warped her words as a political act or has acted without must thought.

  • Carl Rosene


    Call it the uncertainty of politics. Add this data point. According to Breitbart, the tape does exist:

  • You are right, precision counts. I saw the tape and what she described was not shown. Others have also checked all the tapes and agree that what she described is not on the tapes, as presently released.

    1. Don’t lump me with the mainstream press in this. My point here has actually nothing to do with Planned Parenthood, which evidence has shown repeatedly to be a corrupt and criminal organization. I am not trying to get them off the hook.

    2. Whatever her intention, I never suggested that her statement had “a hidden and dark meaning.” All I noted was that her words revealed that she hadn’t actually seen the tape she was talking about. This tells me a great deal about her. Her point about Planned Parenthood was 100% right. All she had to have done was to qualify her statement slightly to make it accurate. She didn’t. Instead, she played to the emotion of the crowd by overstating what the video showed. I don’t like this kind of behavior, from any politician, and I am going to call them on it when I see it.

    3. This is not a sports event! I am getting the feeling that too many voters are picking sides based purely on emotion on who they want to win. Too many voters are also exhibiting a blind loyalty to whom they have picked as their favorites.

    To save our country we have to be better than this. We have to look at all of these candidates coldly, or else they will do to us what the Republican leadership has been doing for the past four years: betray us.

  • Nicely edited. It does not prove anything however. If you clicked on the second link of my post, which was a careful fact-check of her comments, written at a conservative site, you will see that these images were edited in from other sources, and are not the actual baby who was being harvested.

    Once again, I am not defending Planned Parenthood. My point is to note aspects of Fiorina’s behavior that make me not trust her. The video clip you referenced at the link, a political commercial put together by the Fiorina team, only proves my point, as the images it shows are not of the baby in question, yet they try to imply that it is..

  • Mike Nelson


    I think you may be putting too fine a point on your criticism here. Real Clear Politics had a link to a video this week (likely the one referenced from Breitbart above) which did indeed show aa live fetus kicking in the segment where the former PP employee described the brain “harvesting” exercise. I don’t know if this was or was not in the original video or added later in a “supplemented” reposting, but it is undeniably out there and who knows what exact video Fiorina actually saw. I watched the RCP video myself to see if such imagery was actually in it, and all that I can say is that it was, and it does trigger a visceral repugnance. Whether it was the particular fetus referenced makes little difference IMHO, but it does provide a valuable context for this debate. Imagery of late term fetal corpses have been out of bounds in this debate for too long. These are not non-viable lumps of cells, these are undeniably near birthable infants.

    My personal view is that Bill Clinton had it right. Abortion should be safe, it should be legal, but it should be RARE! I would define rare as no more than about the fatalities we see each year due to auto accidents, and preferrably far lower yhan that. But at about 1M procedures a year it’s about 25X or more, which I consider largely genocide.

  • Cotour

    “3. This is not a sports event! I am getting the feeling that too many voters are picking sides based purely on emotion on who they want to win. Too many voters are also exhibiting a blind loyalty to whom they have picked as their favorites.”

    We are talking about human beings here, people will not vote for someone who is not connecting to them first in an emotional way, this is politics! No matter how right they might be on any one particular subject if as a candidate are unable to connect the the people you do not get the job. So we / the candidates are all selling it to differing degrees.

    Your expectation about the general public and who they will put into power is a bit idealistic or naive. I have learned through many conversations and observations this reality and it also goes against my personal common sense, but human beings are first emotional and then logical.

    First you have to get the job.

  • Edward

    Rare is the rate of executions of terrible criminals, in this country. These are so rare that a big deal is made out of each of them. Auto accidents are common — so common that they rarely make the regular news, although there are traffic reports so that commuters can avoid the additional congestion.

    The various videos that are now out are horrific. I have been sickened by them for weeks. Who could have imagined such things took place in a humanitarian country, such as ours? Cotour pointed out Kermit Gosnell, but the horror of his actions seem angelic, compared to these videos.

    It is no wonder that most Democrats deny that such things happen and would refuse to watch these videos; what kind of human being would do such things to helpless babies? What kind of human being would support an organization — or a person — who would do such things? What kind of human being could talk so cavalierly — as we have heard some of the secretly recorded Planned Parenthood officials talk — of these hideous actions taken against the most helpless among us?

    We can only hope that Fiorina and others can keep up the pressure to end such atrocities.

  • Andrew Winter

    I have a problem.

    The problem is simply this. I think there is great hazard in looking so closely at the fine detail that the point is lost. The point was that the videos show a heinous horrible practice, as it is being practiced. In this discussion that point is almost lost in favor of whether or not Fiorina crossed all her “T”s and dotted all her “I”s. Or is it crossed all her”I”s and dotted all her “T”s?

    The thing is truth is often a casualty in debate. The problem is brevity and impact. Because there is so little time things get shortened, condensed, and yes, over dramatized to make a point. Condemning a candidate for exaggeration under these conditions makes one vulnerable to the very accusation levied on the candidate. That being, “It seems a bit too much.”

    I view all statements in debates, especially regarding hot button topics, as attempts to make a point, with brevity and impact, painted in “very broad strokes”. Which does mean that if you look close enough you will almost always find something that just doesn’t line up right.


    This is also why I tend to avoid debates. They are one of the very worst places to find either fact or truth.

  • I don’t know why my post has been so hard for people to understand. My focus was not on Planned Parenthood. My focus was trying to understand something about the character of Carly Fiorina. I grant that this is only one tiny fact in a much larger and broader view of her, but it is a fact nonetheless. She demostrated by her words that she had actually not watched the videos, while demanding that Obama do so.

    I want candidates whom I can trust. This minor fact about Fiorina fits very well with many other things she has said and done. I hadn’t been sure I trusted her before this, and now I am sure of it.

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