What the First Debate Giveth, the Binders Taketh Away
Full disclosure: I missed the first twenty minutes of the debate while commuting home. I live in White Oaks, which for most of you at UWO is like that grey, unexplored part of maps from the Middle Ages where they asked the monk with the scariest handwriting to scribe ‘Here Be Dragons.’ If I omitted any interesting XX chromosome moments in the first bit (Oprah coming to LOL with her BFF Barack, Candy Crowley z-snapping at the candidates) please comment below.
Today, I’m just going to talk about women, but I wish I could write more about the Presidential debate. There are so, so many things about the words that the candidates said that were interesting/hilarious/wrong/thought-provoking that deserve more than some sort of horrifically spinning graphic on CNN’s “The Situation Room” (or as I like to call it, “The Stimulation Room.” We get it Wolf, you have touch screens. Stop zooming in on things). But it’s 1:00 in the morning and midterms are looming and it is absolutely unacceptable to go one more night without showering. The showering threshold has been reached. So I can’t talk about the Benghazi Brawl or Mitt Romney’s reverent admiration of Canadian corporate tax breaks (ohhh nooo) or the idea of illegal immigrants “earning” citizenship through military service (what?). I JUST CAN’T, OKAY? So go shop through another binder, because this lady is wrecked.
Romney’s comment on “binders full of women” might be the most exciting thing to happen to Twitter since Miley Cyrus embraced an alternative lifestyle haircut. However, the sentences immediately preceding “the stationery reference heard ‘round the world” were just as jaw-dropping. The question (presented by a young woman in the audience) asked the candidates what they would do to rectify the fact that women are still earning 70 cents on the dollar compared to their male peers. Obama gave a solid if not wildly inspiring response, referencing legislation he had passed to achieve earning parity, doing his requisite middle-class shout-out and basically reiterating that he thinks ladiez are the bomb (goooooo vaginas!). Mitt’s opening was:
“(As Governor) 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 find some women that are also qualified?”
And then he goes on to say that his peons brought him “binders full of women” so he could shop through them like Sears and Roebuck catalogues (not to be confused with the “binders full of women” Tom Cruise received from the church of Scientology so he could select his new alien wife). It is absolutely worth it to watch the clip (lets be honest, you won’t be able to avoid the clip) because his tone and inflection make this already hilarious sound bite So. Much. Worse. It was probably the most self-congratulatory he sounded all night: he was just tickled for having the audacity and foresight to inquire as to the possibility of employing both sexes. The phrasing of “find some women” conjured up images of harried interns searching high and low to locate a woman who could possibly measure up to the throngs of ‘qualified’ men. “We found one! She was in between the couch cushions this whole time! Oh, never mind it’s a fuzzy quarter.”
The answer in and of itself wasn’t terrible, and could have been articulated so much better: “When I started to form my cabinet, I noticed a stark disparity in the amount of women employed in upper echelons of government. I sought to change this by seeking out accomplished and interesting women to employ and work with me towards common goals.” IT’S THE SAME ANSWER, somehow communicated with no allusion to duo-tangs, no file folders, no clipboards; zero things that serve to constrain paper in the vicinity of other paper. The sentiment was really positive, but was completely shrouded in horribly awkward wording. “So then I said to her ‘You read recipes, right? So why can’t you read policy briefs?” And now she’s the Executive Officer of Floor Waxing!” Oh, Mitt.
Equally as well-intentioned but ultimately disturbing were his comments on gun control. In response to a question that inquired as to the future of legislating high-powered and dangerous weaponry to prevent massacres and violence, one of Mitt’s primary solutions was to make sure people got married before they had kids. Recognizing that gun violence is often a symptom of larger problems like poverty, alienation and abuse is perceptive and accurate. Proposing that having parents who are married is the biggest step in combating those problems is crazy. Romney concedes that single parents can often do a good job but a more stable family structure is always better. Single moms, stop raising killing-spree kids, ok? The NRA can’t take the bad press.
It was incredibly confusing to figure out what the candidates felt legislation should be surrounding the issue of providing free birth control through insurance. The two-minute interaction between the candidates seemed to have them agreeing yet murmuring that the other person was wrong while making a “what’s with this asshole?!” face. You would think that Mitt would be more behind birth control, as it is apparently the babies from “unstable” homes that are massacring everyone with their Second Amendment guns, but whatever.
I’ve been hard on Mitt, but let me say that the Democratic Party in general is being incredibly insulting about women voters as well. Obama’s campaign manager was positively gloating after the debate about how far ahead Obama was with the women’s vote. Stop referring to it ONLY as the women’s vote…just stop. All women don’t share one brain, nor is there some sort of rallying pulse where their womb stirs and they are compelled to lurch to the polls en masse. The Democrats aren’t great for women–they’re just great compared to the Republicans. If Romney/Ryan were running on a ticket of mandatory circumcision you can bet the Democrats would be rocking the men’s vote as well.
When the debate ended, the wives of the candidates were the first ones to join the candidates on the stage. They were inexplicably both wearing the exact same shade of violent pink, like Barbie’s Dream Pantsuit. I doubt it was intentional, and is probably just the color that their stylist assured them was ‘really in right now’. It did seem like an incredibly profound ‘gendered’ image, however, after a debate that stratified men and women so radically. I was soon struggling to focus on any sort of profundity, however, because Anne Romney’s hair looked like someone hot-glue-gunned a child’s bouffant wig to the back of her heard (a toddler sans tiara, if you will). It was incredibly distracting.
That’s all for now, everyone. Next week’s debate is all about foreign policy. Benghazi? Ben-crazy. See you all then!
P.S.: You know how in the Da Vinci Code that monk from Opus Dei that leather strap with the barbs attached, that he fastened around his thigh? And it dug into his flesh when he flexed so that he could be reminded of Jesus’ suffering or that he was still an albino or whatever? I want Obama to have one of those that pierces into him whenever he references the middle class. He can still say it, of course, but I want it to hurt him as much as it hurts me.
Jas Irwin is a fourth-year MPI student, member of the FIMS Student Council, and first Staff Writer of the Zine Vol. 12 whose last Zine blog (on the VP debate last week) elicited a “Christ, she’s funny!” for its incomparable wit.