3 things to remember about Romney’s binders

All joking aside, there are three points about Mitt Romney’s “binders full of women” comment at Wednesday’s debate that shouldn’t get lost in all the fuss over the Internet meme.

1.) He didn’t actually answer the question.
Audience member Katherine Fenton asked, “In what new ways to you intend to rectify the inequalities in the workplace, specifically regarding females making only 72 percent of what their male counterparts earn?” In response, Romney talked about going the extra mile to find women to serve in his Massachusetts gubernatorial cabinet; about providing flexible work schedules so women can meet their family obligations (as if men don’t have those too?); and about strengthening the economy to create more jobs. He said nothing about pay inequity.

2.) The binders thing isn’t entirely true.
The Boston Globe reports that the Massachusetts Government Appointments Project was compiling this information and reached out to the gubernatorial candidates before Romney was even elected – they went to him, not vice versa. The Globe also reports:

Midway through his four-year term, 42 percent of his 33 new appointments were women, according to a study done by the UMass Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy using some of the data collected by MassGAP.

But over the next two years, women made up only 25 percent of the 64 new appointments Romney made. By the end of his term, the number of women in high-ranking positions was slightly lower than it was before Romney took office.

3.) Regardless of who went to whom, he made an amazing admission.
Romney said:

“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?’”

It sounds as if Romney set a policy in which he took gender into consideration in order to benefit an underrepresented group in employment, as a means of countering the effects of a history of discrimination.

There’s a name for that: affirmative action. But he was panned for his affirmative action record as Massachusetts’s governor, and it’s not a concept that’s popular with a lot of conservatives.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Truthclubber

    “…over the next two years, women made up only 25 percent of the 64 new appointments Romney made. By the end of his term, the number of women in high-ranking positions was slightly lower than it was before Romney took office….”

    Simple enough explanation for that.

    He ran out of pages in the MassGAP binder he was given before he ran out of high-ranking positions to fill.

  • RR senile columnist

    Three more things to remember:1. Neither nominee let the wording of a question get in the way of his message. The 72 PC figure, favoured by feminists,is extrapolated from census data and fails to take into account pink-collar jobs that have lower pay-scales. Maybe it’s unfair that hair- washers get paid less than stylists, but it isn’t sexism. 2. Mitt hired women because it was expected of him by the voters, along with blacks, Hispanics, etc. 3. Who ‘s got the clout to get things done is more important than window dressing. The past has to be acknowledged but not by showering goodies on the descendants of the mistreated. If that were the case, wrongly convicted ex-cons should get free condos and nice cars. Gen. Powell, whose ancestors were brought to the West Indies, should be compensated by Westminster.

  • Cindy Corrello Hilke

    Never have I been so happy to not be in someone’s resume binder.

  • JohnW

    Re: 2 RR

    “The past has to be acknowledged but not by showering goodies on the descendants of the mistreated.”

    The word “descendants” implies ancient history. We are less than 50 years removed from lynchings, Jim Crow, legally mandated segregation, Willie Mays not being able to buy a house in “liberal” SF, socially acceptable use of the “N” word, prohibited inter-marriage etc. There are still people around who think all that was just fine and politicians who are ignorant enough to say that “slavery was the best thing that ever happened to blacks.” “Showering goodies” may not be the solution to the deeply entrenched problems that afflict those “descendants” and society at large as a direct result of the past. But I don’t think we’ve made it to the “we’re all equal now, so get over it” stage either.

  • publius

    I agree Mitt should of answered truthfully.

    If he answered truthfully the answer would of gone a little like this……..

    “Equal pay for equal work is exactly what I believe in. Due to the liberal state I governed I was forced to search high and low for females and minorities to fill certain jobs. In many cases I had to hire people that were not qualified, but they did fit into the race and gender class that I needed to “diversify” my cabinet. I believe that a woman has the right to demand equal pay for equal work, if the employer does not recognize the work and will not compensate her what she believes is right then the female has the right to find another job, the employer will be at a loss. I believe that sometimes women give birth to babies. When that happens usually a woman will choose to stay home and raise her family. As strange as it sounds I agree with this decision. I am businessman, I have spent my life in the private sector, and it is my belief that if an employer discriminates and chooses not to hire qualified capable employees then they will suffer. Its called the Free Market.

    Please Candy, don’t interrupt I am almost done. As for your original question; what do I plan to do about pay inequality? Absolutely nothing! This is a trumped up issue created by the Left Wing Media to get me to say something that pisses off the female voters. There is no place in our Constitution that gives the federal government the power to tell businesses who to hire let alone what wage to pay them.”

  • JohnW

    Re: 5

    Publius, I’ll pass along your draft to Mitt’s speech writers and pray that they use them, verbatim. Should be a real crowd pleaser with women!

  • Truthclubber

    @5 —

    The Governor before him had a higher percentage of women in “high-ranking positions”.

    The Governor after him had a higher percentage of women in “high-ranking positions”.

    The state of Massachusetts (from what I can tell) did NOT melt down into some shambles of enviro-economic meltdown as a result of the female-biased hiring decisions made by the Governors that preceded and succeeded “Herr Romnuts”.

    Facts matter, even for Cheney types (like yourself) who spout that “deficits don’t matter”.

  • JAFO

    If memory serves, it wasn’t all that long ago that investigators documented that women working on Obama’s White House staff were being paid significantly less than men. Interesting. Coincidentally, a well-placed female staffer described the White House as a “hostile work environment” for women. I don’t recall much in the way of media scrutiny on those fascinating little tidbits. But, Mitt Romney’s “egregious” comment about binders: “Stop the presses!” There’s a word to describe such selective reporting.

  • JohnW

    Mitt got to be governor by returning to Massachusetts and pushing aside the Republican woman, Jane Swift, who was already serving as the first and only female governor of the state..

    She was not that “swift” as governor, and Mitt had every right to run against her. The GOP establishment in the state was backing him. So, she took the hint and dropped out.

    After Mitt became governor, it was her turn to have her official portrait displayed in the state capitol building. Mitt attended the ceremony but declined to speak. Real class!

    So, Mitt’s biography one day may say that among his noteworthy contributions to history were that he bumped the first woman governor of his state (one of his own party) and then defeated the first black president.

  • Elwood

    “and then defeated the first black president.”

    He defeated the chosen one?

    Oh, no!

    The racist bastard!

  • JohnW

    Re: #10

    Mitt, racist? Nah. But, given the history of his church, there is irony to the first woman governor of that state being pushed aside by the first Mormon governor. And to the possibility that the first black president is defeated by that same Mormon.

    I do think Mitt has some Mormon traditionalist notions when it comes to women.

    So, I think it only appropriate that, in 2016, the first Mormon president gets defeated by HRC or perhaps by the first black lesbian president.