Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Mitt Romney's "Binders Full of Women"

Last night's Town Hall Debate was Romney's to lose. And he totally blew it. (Happy dance). One key difference between this debate post mortem and the prior two - liberals can admit it when their guy loses. Conservatives still won't admit that Ryan lost the VP debate, and that Romney lost this one.

I loved that Obama finally brought his A-game. One of the most privotal moments, probably of Obama's whole presidency actually, was when he called Romney's accusations that Obama has been politicizing Libya "offensive." It must have been horribly galling to our President to be chastised by the right for an absurd, imagined non-offense in the context of such an amazing foreign policy victory. It was a powerful moment, one that took me by surprise, reinforcing for me something about Obama that I suspect many of us feel, even despite all of our complaints. That is, that Obama is a decent man, and a thoughtful, patient, intellectual, practical, principled, careful decision-maker who, when all is said and done, trusts the people on their own to understand and to unpack what he's accomplished, without feeling the need to fly a crass "mission accomplished" banner. He quietly gets results, and he reminds me every time I see him speak that real character does count.

The best question of the night was - what will you do to bring about pay equity in the American workplace?

Romney's answer that he hired women for his Massachusetts cabinet was just plain idiotic. Nice reminder that smart, qualified women aren't a substantial part of the GOP power structure.  (Good fact-checking on Romney's hiring claims today over at FEMINISTE.) What a sad, sad demonstration of the fact that he doesn't understand what tokenism is. What he utterly fails to comprehend is that sexism will not be dismantled by the one-off addition of 14 temporary female State Secretaries of Bunny Rabbits with no real authority and tenure. What we really need is what we've been saying since the 70s: equal pay for equal work for all women, and real anti-employment discrimination laws without statutes of limitations (yes, the Lily Ledbetter Act is a start) - because it can literally take years to discover what we all suspect deep down, we're still not making as much as our male coworkers.

Romney's answer was both offensive and inaccurate. He's been running on his business record at Bain Capital - but he says didn't become aware of "women's issues" until he became Governor. Nobody on his campaign, nobody from his HBS alumni network, nobody from the LDS Church, none of his private equity networking contacts knew any qualified women! But not because none existed, he admits there is a "binder full of women" - but because neither he nor his friends nor his advisors knew any.

Think about that for a minute. To find some women, Romney's men had to go outside their circles because they simply did not know any. They had to turn to "women's groups" where they surmised those types of women must congregate.

Now try substituting "African American" into Romney's statements instead of women, and the insult suddenly becomes crystal clear. Imagine saying "I couldn't find any qualified blacks, so I called up the NAACP."

I could say a lot more about what is So Very Wrong about the way Romney automatically equated mothers women (but not men) in the workplace with a need for "flexibility," so that mothers women (but not men) can get home to their kids and cook some dinner. He's basically saying all women have kids, no real mother can ever put in a 70-80 work week, and therefore being a mother disqualifies any woman from a Romney appointment.

It came off as coming from a place of extreme male privilege - here's a rich man who honestly has never given a thought to any of these real world family issues. Despite having fathered five sons, Romney has clearly never had to concern his pretty little head with any of the actual work and logistics involved. Here he hoped to sell himself as someone who cares about women by imagining the bullet-points of what middle class women must discuss at those corporate work/life balance presentations he's never attended. Yes, this is the drivel that one spews when one honestly don't know or care to know any members of a group.

Obama's answer schooled Romney and his ivory tower ilk as to the realities that women are increasingly the family breadwinners in this country, that female-headed single-parent families remain a significant presence, and that there's still a glass ceiling. I actually teared up when Obama talked about the sexism his grandmother faced at work.

I'm kind of in love with the meme that's going around the internets. The one with the Dos Equis beer ad guy is my current fave. Ah, gotta love those precious gems of political theatre we were treated to last night --

ROMNEY: "Mr. President, have you looked at your pension? Have you looked at your pension? Mr. President, have you looked at your pension?"

OBAMA: "You know I don't look at my pension, it's not as big as yours so it doesn't take as long."

LOL!!! I can't be the only one who was thinking of another word that begins with the letter P during that little exchange.

We haven't had this much fun during a debate season since Al Gore and his lock box, hell, probably since Nixon/Kennedy if you believe our elders.

Your thoughts??

p.s. By the way, Saturday Night Live is knocking it out of the park - if you haven't watched in years, you'd better get on it quick before the election's over.


Lisa @ Trapped In North Jersey said...

PREACH, SISTER!! Totally agree--we plan to make more jobs so more people will get hired--EVEN WOMEN! Omg the obliviousness of that statement. The fact that you had to "go out and find women" is just mindboggling.

Most men who have "binders full of women" get arrested and go to jail.

Maria said...

I laughed out loud at your p-word line, hehe.

I was more offended as a woman last night than I have been in a long time (and I live in the south!). Not only the binders of women, and the notion that women (and presumably only women) need flex-time -- has anyone even used that word since like 1992?? , and that this magical flex-time is *all* women need to make them happy in the workplace… He didn't bother to even pretend to address the actual question, about pay parity. I assume he's never thought about it.

Even more offensive was his little homily about two parent families, as though he knows anything about any of it. Way to totally invalidate my household, Mitt. Oh, and my mom's.

My favorite binder meme is the one that says a binder of women still costs 77¢ while a binder of men costs $1.

momboy said...

Oh, the homage to the moms and dads raising children. I almost forgot about that little gem.

He was exactly who he is when he spoke about families and women. And immigrants - omg - the line about the military being the best path for the kids of illegal immigrants to gain citizenship! He's racist, classist and sexist. And apparently proud of it. I am so thankful for these public debates. I really hope people were listening.

Lisa @ Trapped In North Jersey said...

did you see this review of binders? Too funny. (along the lines of the Bic Pen for Women, if you haven't seen that one either.)

Vacationland Mom said...

I'm right there with you, and I haven't even watched any of the debates (I know, that sounds ignorant) except for some clips last night on the Daily Show. I said almost the exact things you wrote here last night, that Obama is simply a good man, and that Romney has absolutely no concept of what life is like for a real person (not that he's not a real person, you know what I mean). I don't know if it's getting older or what, but I am endlessly amazed at how apparently people aren't seeing through all of this bullshit. Maybe they don't want to see.