Binders full of women

by niamh on October 17, 2012

The US presidential debates are on TV at very unsocial hours for Europeans, but I gather the general view is that Obama ‘won’ last night’s.

Reading the coverage this morning, Romney seems to have hit a nerve with his ‘binders full of women’ – I can’t help laughing at Tumblr responses such as this:




garymar 10.17.12 at 12:30 pm

Car roofs full of dogs!


Warren Terra 10.17.12 at 12:40 pm

The jokes are a fun thing, and some of the ones in the Tumblr are brilliant. But, especially with people paying attention because of the jokes, the fact that Mitt’s narrative just isn’t true, as is mentioned in the Grauniad story you link, but only in three words (plus a hyperlink), might sink in.

Also, what Mitt describes himself as having done was Affirmative Action, which is not something his base is particularly fond of.


MPAVictoria 10.17.12 at 2:00 pm

Anyone else notice how weird Romney’s sentence constructions were last night?


james 10.17.12 at 3:20 pm

The ‘binders full of women comment overshadowed an even more important part of Romney’s answer to the question about inequality in the workplace, more specifically the fact that a woman makes 72% less than a man in the same job.

Romney’s solution: Flexible schedules so women can get home in time to make dinner for their kids.

Well Mr. Romney, if a woman earned 30% more money she could afford to have hot catered meals waiting for her when she gets home from a hard days work or pay for cooking classes for her husband!


The Modesto Kid 10.17.12 at 4:59 pm

My favorite “Binders” reaction is this one: Nikki’s in a binder full of women… (from Big Love)


Substance McGravitas 10.17.12 at 6:15 pm

The “binders” bit was a funny misstep, but the whole answer was inept, so here it is as I do a little happy dance:

CROWLEY: Governor Romney, pay equity for women?

ROMNEY: Thank you. An important topic, and one which I learned a great deal about, particularly as I was serving as governor of my state, because I had the chance to pull together a cabinet and all the applicants seemed to be men.

And I – and I went to my staff, and I said, “How come all the people for these jobs are – are all men.” They said, “Well, these are the people that have the qualifications.” And I said, “Well, gosh, can’t we – can’t we find some – some women that are also qualified?”

And – and so we – we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet.

I went to a number of women’s groups and said, “Can you help us find folks,” and they brought us whole binders full of women.

I was proud of the fact that after I staffed my Cabinet and my senior staff, that the University of New York in Albany did a survey of all 50 states, and concluded that mine had more women in senior leadership positions than any other state in America.

Now one of the reasons I was able to get so many good women to be part of that team was because of our recruiting effort. But number two, because I recognized that if you’re going to have women in the workforce that sometimes you need to be more flexible. My chief of staff, for instance, had two kids that were still in school.

She said, I can’t be here until 7 or 8 o’clock at night. I need to be able to get home at 5 o’clock so I can be there for making dinner for my kids and being with them when they get home from school. So we said fine. Let’s have a flexible schedule so you can have hours that work for you.

We’re going to have to have employers in the new economy, in the economy I’m going to bring to play, that are going to be so anxious to get good workers they’re going to be anxious to hire women. In the – in the last women have lost 580,000 jobs. That’s the net of what’s happened in the last four years. We’re still down 580,000 jobs. I mentioned 31/2 million women, more now in poverty than four years ago.

What we can do to help young women and women of all ages is to have a strong economy, so strong that employers that are looking to find good employees and bringing them into their workforce and adapting to a flexible work schedule that gives women opportunities that they would otherwise not be able to afford.

This is what I have done. It’s what I look forward to doing and I know what it takes to make an economy work, and I know what a working economy looks like. And an economy with 7.8 percent unemployment is not a real strong economy. An economy that has 23 million people looking for work is not a strong economy.

An economy with 50 percent of kids graduating from college that can’t finds a job, or a college level job, that’s not what we have to have.

CROWLEY: Governor?

ROMNEY: I’m going to help women in America get good work by getting a stronger economy and by supporting women in the workforce.


Guido Nius 10.17.12 at 6:52 pm

The guy has a head full of blinders. No wonder he didn’t see this coming.


John Quiggin 10.17.12 at 7:09 pm

I didn’t watch either debate (I’m a lesser-evilist, but I don’t have a vote or a need to make further comparisons between these two). But it seems to me from the reports that Obama’s loss in the first round, while apparently enough to move the polls a long way (though Nate Silver queries this in the NYT today) was purely stylistic. By contrast, Romney seems to have made some big substantive errors this time.


Salient 10.17.12 at 9:03 pm

“I like being able to fire women who provide services to me.”


common reader 10.17.12 at 9:40 pm

Oh, Salient! And what do you think he will do when he fires one (or more) and can’t find a replacement?


Bernard Yomtov 10.17.12 at 10:21 pm


Not only was his answer inept, it was, unsurprisingly, false.


Soullite 10.17.12 at 10:36 pm

Manufactured. You just don’t get that kind of response that quickly unless a whole lot of people were ready to pounce beforehand – they were just looking for a reason.

No different than the conservative ‘jokes’ of 2004 or 2008 (tire gauges, anyone?). Democrats will bat it around and pretend to find it funny. Nobody else will care. Because it isn’t funny, and everyone knows what he meant (and a majority probably would have even said it the same way).

It just seems like wishful thinking to believe it’ll matter. The only reason the first debate ‘mattered’ was because some section of voters weren’t sure if Mitt Romney could be President, and that debate proved to them that he could. Obama didn’t do ‘well’ in September (didn’t even crack 50% in most polls), Romney did poorly. Obama’s been President for 4 years. People already know him. People already elected him. A good performance can’t move numbers for him.


ezra abrams 10.18.12 at 12:24 am

credit where credit is due (end of russia house movie)
@6 – link not working for me


Adam Roberts 10.18.12 at 8:21 am

#2 “Also, what Mitt describes himself as having done was Affirmative Action, which is not something his base is particularly fond of.”

This is true, and ought to count for something, but I wonder if it will. I’ve a hunch a typical Conservative reaction will be not ‘hey, why was our guy advocating affirmative action?’ but rather: ‘hey — those liberals say they want affirmative action, but when a Conservative guy actually does it, and talks about doing it, all they do is mock him. Bad liberals!’


Jeffrey Davis 10.18.12 at 2:29 pm

I hope this proves to be the equivalent of SarahPalin being able to see Russia or Jimmy Carter’s killer rabbit story. If the electorate finds you the butt of a plausible (and funny) joke, you’re toast.


musical mountaineer 10.19.12 at 2:14 am

You know, I just noticed…

He’s really good-looking. I mean, for his age or whatever. Well, okay, maybe not really good-looking, but he’s definitely not a bad-looking guy.

Can’t say I ever noticed that about him, before. Huh.


musical mountaineer 10.19.12 at 2:33 am

Okay, I see it now. It’s the way you put the word “finance” on his forehead. It kind of fixes his hairline.

Not a bad-looking guy at all.


Salient 10.19.12 at 2:54 am

heart you, mm, but He’s really good-looking. It’s the way you put the word “finance” on his forehead has got to be the funniest thing I have ever read on the Internet.


Katherine 10.19.12 at 10:50 pm

Manufactured. You just don’t get that kind of response that quickly unless a whole lot of people were ready to pounce beforehand.

So people knew he was going to use the phrase “binders full of women” and had tumblr responses ready to go? You’d think with that quality of insider information they’d do something more substantive with it than joke about something silly (also, untrue) that a candidate said.

Or do you mean that it’s so gosh darn unfair that Democrats make mean jokes about silly (also untrue) things that a Republican said? And using a loaded word like “manufactured”, to mean false or unspontaneous I suppose, is how you pretend that the Republican candidate didn’t, in fact, say something silly (also, untrue).

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