Mitt Romney's 'Binders' Bind
But I'm not mad at him. The Republican candidate's expression sounded a bit crude, but he had the right idea. After all, it is far, far better for Romney to have "binders full of woman" than to be, say, a blind fool about women.
The issue came up in response to a question on gender pay inequality. A woman in the town hall setting asked President
That gave Obama an opportunity, which he eagerly took, to talk about the very first piece of legislation he signed into law as president, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
"It's named after this amazing woman who had been doing the same job as a man for years, found out that she was getting paid less, and the
Romney responded with a story about his efforts to pull together his first cabinet as governor of
"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," Romney said.
As a result of his outreach, he said, the
But the four words "binders full of women" already were going viral on the Twittersphere with its own hashtag, plus a series of memes on Tumblr and a
And the Obama campaign was quick to take advantage of the pseudo-gaffe. Vice President
But to me, Romney's comment did not qualify as a genuine Mitt-ism. It fails to plays into the usual stereotype of an out-of-touch, privileged businessman.
To me, he sounded more like a lot of managers I know who have been grappling for years with a thorny question that now once again happens to be in front of the
Romney did the right thing, judging by his account. If, instead of referring to "binders full of women," he had used the more conventional terminology, such as "reach out to expand the pool of qualified applicants to include more women," hardly anyone would have blinked.
Romney may have overstated his own initiative in launching the search, according to
But Ledbetter, the woman for whom the equal pay legislation was named, raised the central issue. Romney's running mate, Rep.
Bottom line, Obama and Romney presented two distinctly different approaches to the challenge of expanding opportunities for women. Romney offers good role modeling in his outreach for "binders full of women." Obama offers legal protections so employers won't be blind to women's rights.
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