Is Carly Fiorina Next on Trump’s Humiliation List?

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

Long-time reader Jim Elliott suspects she will be:

I just read the news that Carly Fiorina was summoned to Trump Tower. Carly Fiorina as Director of National Intelligence? Her only job qualification is having hired private investigators to spy on her board members while at HP!

I’m curious: Why is no one I’ve seen in the press calling these interviews what they are: summonses to come worship Trump on his throne. Mitt Romney, Rick Perry [Update: picked for Energy], Carly Fiorina ... these are all people who spoke ill of Trump, who refused to endorse him or failed to do so in a timely manner. These job interviews are nothing more than the politics of personal humiliation. President-elect Trump is basking in their subjugation and eager to watch them fawn and slobber over his ego in the hopes of reaping a once-in-a-lifetime job opportunity that they’ll never actually get. This is the act of a petty man, a child holding court on a playground.

In contrast, what did Obama do after barely beating Hillary Clinton in a long and bitter primary battle in 2008? He made her secretary of state, of course—fourth in line for the presidency. Romney didn’t fare as well in his bid for Foggy Bottom:

Muh names reek @mememojiapp

A photo posted by Shithead Steve ™ (@shitheadsteve) on

Another reader, Dave, fears Obama might be next:

I’m sure you read the “dominatrix” Daily Beast article this weekend. I think the writer is spot on regarding Trump’s character and the basis of his recent actions—parading ex-competitors in to kiss the ring only to be humiliated by being passed over.

I feel sure that Trump is salivating, waiting for his chance to do the same to Obama—and it will take place on January 22nd or thereabouts, as he personally trashes as much as possible his predecessor’s actions, leaving the follow-on to his truly weird and scary cabinet. Anything Obama does now will only appear to be groveling in hindsight. Trump’s current statements on Obama sound like his statements about Romney after dinner with him. Trump’s revenge on Barack will be far more public and more vicious. Like the scorpion vis-à-vis the frog, it is his nature. Unfortunately, we are the victims as well (not just of Trump, reading the latest R proposal on Medicare).

It is what it is. The most important thing Obama has done is to initiate the report on the investigation into the Russian campaign activity. Trump will not touch this, and it is essential that this info is on the record ASAP (hopefully as much made public as possible before the inauguration).

I agree with your readers’ comments that the 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner putdown by Obama played a role in Trump’s decision to run, but I suspect that it merely added fuel (gasoline) to the fire. I believe Trump’s decision was based more on his intuition regarding the split attitudes across the nation and the 2016 competition (both sides).

I suspect there is more background on the Russians that will eventually come out. I also cannot believe that given Trump’s past (and present) there will not be more incendiary facts to emerge. Will any of it stick? Who knows. But I do think there is a significant portion of the Republican Congress/backers/etc. that would much prefer a President Pence. He is predictable and manageable from the perspective of the party. If there is any glimmer of hope to Trump not lasting four years, his Waterloo may come from his own house. One can only hope ...



Here’s a big portion of the Trump/Fiorina face-off during the primaries:

Update: There’s a lot of schadenfreude going on over at our Facebook page. Here’s an illustrative quote from reader Sam:

Any of the people who ran against him, who are stupid enough to believe that he can be held to his word (in this case, the promise that they will gain appointments if they prostrate themselves before him and apologize), deserves all the humiliation that he lays upon them.

If you have anything substantive to add, please send us a note: