The man who captivated crowds of 100,000 plus during rallies, skated across Hofstra University’s debate stage, reminding us of one, simple thing: “I’ve got this.”
Body language is telling, and the town hall format showed, not only the president at his most comfortable, it also showed he finally…finally…got his groove back. Instead of being holed up behind a lectern, Obama strode, sometimes even seeming to glide, across the stage in a confident manner. Mitt Romney skulked and plodded about, looking like a used car salesman trying to sell us an automobile he knows has far too many miles.
The president was laser focused, besting Romney in nearly every category. From taxes to Bain Capital. Even when Mitt tried cornering the president on Libya, staring him down in a defiant manner on the issue of terrorism, Romney was embarrassingly fact-checked on the spot by moderator Candy Crowley, and proven wrong.
But it wasn’t discussion of foreign policy or unemployment that caught my attention. It was women’s rights. There was not a single mention of women’s issues during the first debate. So I was more than grateful to see it come up this time around. Katherine Fenton, an undecided voter, asked the president, “In what new ways do you intend to rectify the inequalities in the workplace, specifically regarding females making only 72 percent of what their male counterparts earn?”
Obama mentioned the very first piece of legislation he signed into law, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
How did Mitt Romney respond?
Well, he said he, “learned a great deal” about gender pay inequality while constructing his cabinet as Governor. “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.”
Binders full of women? Really? I never knew it was possible to objectify and dehumanize women everywhere with so few words. Even worse was this comment from Romney:
“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.
I give Romney points for flexibility. That’s certainly important. But painting the picture of a woman who has to rush home to make dinner for her kids in this century, sounds as dated as someone who still carries around binders of any kind.
If Mitt Romney is elected President of the United States, I’ll tell my daughter not to worry about gender equality or equal pay, because her name will be in a big binder on Mitt Romney’s shelf should she ever need to find a job. Somehow, I don’t believe that’ll give her much confidence, though. Even less, I think, when she realizes she falls into that 47% category of his.