Meg Whitman has presented herself to the voters of California as an American original. She is an internet zillionaire who is setting aside her private pursuit of profit to pursue the commonweal, a twenty-first century equivalent of the planter George Washington leaving his plow to take up the challenges of politics.
In fact, we now know, Ms. Whitman more closely resembles a different kind of American original. She is Daisy Buchanan, the anti-heroine in “The Great Gatsby,” walking through life, taking up and leaving aside people as she sees fit. Her decision to fire a longtime employee last year because the employee lacked proper documentation was undoubtedly a political, not a patriotic, calculation. When a person decides to seek public office, the first step is to do some opposition research on themselves, to uncover things that might come back to haunt them during a campaign. In a campaign I worked on, we discovered a missed payment for trash collection, which became, in our opponent’s subsequent television ad, “a failure to pay his own taxes.” It is probable that the legal status of Ms. Whitman’s maid came to the attention of the researchers and instead of doing the right thing and taking care of the maid, helping her to get her legal status in order, Whitman just let her go. Now, Whitman has the gall to say that the maid was like a member of the family. It is appalling.
In her next debate, I half expect Whitman to look into the cameras and say, “Tell everyone, Daisy has changed her mind!”