Debate #2: Crowley Wins It, Binders of Women New Mitt Meme

by Gloria Feldt on October 17th, 2012
in Election Watch, Leadership, Politico Arena, Politics, Power, Women & Politics and tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Candy Crowley was the biggest winner in last night’s Town Hall for her real time fact checking on Libya. She also asked follow up questions that forced the candidates to clarify their positions. She is, however, wrong in saying that it doesn’t matter that she’s a woman. It matters a lot that other women see they can aspire to moderate a presidential debate if that is their aspiration. And I suspect having a female role model gave permission, conscious or not, to female questioners who asked about such issues as equal pay.

President Obama snatched victory from the jaws of his first debate defeat, while Mitt Romney snatched defeat from the jaws of his previous winning performance by being, well, Romney.

The optics revealed two alpha males, each determined to prevail. However, Romney’s body language was stiff and menacing, reeking of privilege, whereas Obama seemed comfortable and nonthreatening in his leadership responsibility as president and commander-in-chief.  As Keli Goff observed, Romney not only appeared on the brink of losing his cool several times, but the way he brushed off Crowley was a turn off to women whom both candidates acknowledge are key to the election.

Obama skillfully skewered Romney on the economy with his one-liner characterizing Romney’s economic policy as a “one-point-plan” and saving the 47% moment to the end after Romney set his own trap.

Rivaling his Big Bird gaffe which rapidly became a social media meme, Romney stepped into the biggest pile of goo ever with his “binders of women” comment. Meant to puff up his creds with the ladies, poor Mitt only succeeded in showing

a) he himself apparently knew no qualified women despite having been in business for decades and

b) the Democrats are accurate in saying Romney lies; it turns out he didn’t request those binders.

The binders were prepared in advance of the election by a nonpartisan women’s coalition for whomever would become governor.

This has already spawned a “Binders Full of Women” tumblr and a whole slew of Democratic fundraising appeals playing off of Romney’s amazing tone deafness with the reality of women’s lives today. (Really? Only women want to go home for dinner with their families?) My favorite is the one pointing out that there are ballots full of women we can vote for this year.

I wanted Obama to say more, lots more, about the peril to women’s reproductive rights and health should Romney win, and to make more of a point that contraceptive coverage is in fact an economic issue. But there again, Romney managed to do himself in by dancing an inauthentic two-step as he tried to satisfy his anti-birth control base with their favorite code words while not frightening off the 99% of Americans who use birth control at some time during their lives.

So we go into the final debate with a tie score, each candidate having won one and lost one. The last lap of this election promises to continue to be a see-saw. Every vote cast will make a difference.

This post originally appeared in response to a Politico Arena question. Find the original publication here.

Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

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One Response to Debate #2: Crowley Wins It, Binders of Women New Mitt Meme

  1. Aletha says:

    Yes, Democrats are accurate in saying Romney lies, but even more so, they are hypocritical. Show me a politician who does not lie virtually every time he opens his mouth. Is lie too strong a term? How about obfuscate, sugarcoat, or mislead? There may be a few honest politicians, but most of them are not men, or not part of mainstream politics. Obama seemed non-threatening? Does it seem non-threatening to you to hear a President sound like an oil company commercial, or worse, an emperor defending his orders that have resulted in the deaths of countless civilians in his vain quest to decimate the enemies of this empire?

    Romney is clueless about women, but that is not news. What I found striking about the debate was the quaking in the boots of both campaigns about the notion of Candy Crowley asking follow-up questions. I could imagine how these men who rely so heavily on talking points would crumble in the face of a real challenge, from outside mainstream politics. Democrats love to pretend the only opposition they need to counter is from Republicans. That may be true, as a matter of political reality, but it does make US politics a mockery of democracy, as Jill Stein called it after being arrested trying to get into the debate venue. She and the Green VP candidate were shackled to chairs for hours for that crime. Heaven forbid they might get into that Town Hall and ask a question!

    I could say so much more, but I will leave that for my blog. I am currently working on a piece called Perspective. It is amazing how differently things can look, depending on perspective.

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