Politics & Policy

Fiorina Both Refreshing and Terrifying to Feminists

Fiorina campaigns in Iowa, September 25, 2015. (Scott Olson/Getty)

Carly Fiorina is a no-nonsense former business executive who is showing she can play — and throw elbows — with the big boys in the Republican presidential nomination battle.

Feminists have noticed, but their admiration is tinged with dread — and it should be. An eloquent, fearless critic of abortion, the latest outsider to climb into the Republican race is a clear and present danger to what feminists hold most dear.

Even if she had said nothing else at the CNN debate, Fiorina would have stood out for her gut-punch of a statement about the horror of the guerrilla Planned Parenthood videos capturing the ghoulish organ harvesting that is an important side business of the organization (the main business, of course, is aborting babies).

The novelist Jennifer Weiner told the New York Times for a story about the conflicted feelings of feminists, “It’s so weird — she looks like one of us, but she’s not.” Another feminist writer said that “there’s an excitement and a horror.” The managing editor of the feminist website Jezebel tweeted the night of the debate, “I’m in love with and terrified of her.”

RELATED: Is Carly Fiorina Ready for Her Close-Up

Yes, be afraid, very afraid. Fiorina already may be the most effective, high-profile woman that the pro-life movement has. At the debate, she captured the enormity of the Planned Parenthood scandal, for which there are almost no words, speaking of it in the harshly indignant terms that it deserves.

No sooner had she made her statement than the media fact-checkers got to work. Fiorina had described a video of a living fetus and a technician working to harvest its brain. This was wrong. The video was stock footage of a briefly living victim of an abortion that played while a former technician described — in a different case — her horrifying experience cutting an aborted baby’s face open to preserve its brain for sale.

#share#Fiorina should have been more precise, but what she had misdescribed was a detail in the broader Planned Parenthood abattoir. It has been established that the organization kills babies and cuts out their organs to sell them off. How much of a defense is it that the brain harvesting is not itself on video?

Fiorina is so formidable because she has a tough-as-nails public persona, together with an ear for the music of public speech.

Fiorina’s electric condemnation of Planned Parenthood has inevitably gotten the attention of the pro-abortion sisterhood. This past weekend in Iowa, protesters chanted and threw condoms at her — condoms evidently being the go-to projectile to demonstrate outrage, even though Fiorina had said nothing about birth control.

At the same event, a woman accosted Fiorina to ask, “How can you as a woman not support our health care?” In a firm and frank exchange, Fiorina probably left the woman determined never to try that again. “Oh, I support your health care,” the candidate shot back. “I don’t support butchering babies.”

Fiorina is so formidable because she has a tough-as-nails public persona, together with an ear for the music of public speech. As Noah Rothman of Commentary magazine put it, she campaigns in poetry, not in prose. There is a reason that she completed an improbable escape from the undercard debate in August to the main stage in September for an often-dominating performance.

#related#At their best, her riffs are pungent, memorable — and persuasive. “Liberals and progressives will spend inordinate amounts of time and money protecting fish, frogs, and flies,” she said last week after a visit to a pro-life pregnancy center. “They do not think a 17-week-old, a 20-week-old, a 24-week-old is worth saving.”

Hillary Clinton’s fans can be forgiven for wishing their candidate had some of Fiorina’s flair as a communicator. A writer at Cosmopolitan lamented, “Carly Fiorina Is the Candidate I Wanted Hillary Clinton to Be.” She and others ought to get used to feeling envious and chagrined. Even if she flames out as a candidate, in Carly Fiorina conservatives and pro-lifers have discovered a formidable champion.

— Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via e-mail: comments.lowry@nationalreview.com. © 2015 King Features Syndicate

Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via email: comments.lowry@nationalreview.com. 

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