Let's Get Political

Presidential Debate Round II Roundup

Apparently President Obama and Mitt Romney took some feedback to heart after the last snoozefest debate, because last night, they brought their ‘tudes to play. Obama brought the attitude of someone who is president and is almost pompously confident, albeit with diplomatic experience. Romney brought the attitude of a 5-year-old who dropped his cookie and doesn’t want another cookie, nor does he want you to change the subject, just listen to him talk about his cookie! Candy Crowley was the moderator, and she was not handing out cookies, in a totally boss, sit-down-and-shut-up-I-run-this-sh*t kind of way. Overall, the spectacle ranged somewhere between a cafeteria food fight and a back alley knife brawl. At least I could stay awake the whole time.

It took Romney almost the full 100 minutes to learn that when it wasn’t his turn, it wasn’t his turn. Obama opted for the high road, aka basic common courtesy, which some people will think made him look weak, and others will respect. Mostly, whatever your opinion already is, it’ll just stay that way. A note for Governor Romney: when you’ve spent your whole campaign getting called out on how medieval your stance on women’s issues is, trying to walk all over the female moderator and talking to her like she’s your housemaid/butler (I don’t know which one he has, probably both) isn’t helping.

Both candidates spent the whole debate trying to Biden each other. Neither pulled it off. I miss the VP debate, you guys.

Of course, the Big Bird moment of the night was Romney’s “binder full of women” quip, which is, and I say this without bias, a treasure trove of misogynistic stupidity. [Editor’s Note: It’s also total boloney!] It served as living proof that armies of meme creators were ready and waiting for the next big thing. The Facebook page was up to 98K likes half an hour after the debate ended, and the Tumblr went up 30 seconds before Romney even said anything. Let’s get some context, because we all know this is what we came here to talk about, anyway.

The question asked Romney how he would address the gender pay gap. Here’s the full quote:

Now, the question wasn’t, “Do you acknowledge women as valid members of society whatsoever?” The question was about the gender pay gap. You know, that thing where women get paid less than men for doing the exact same job with the same hours, and it’s legal? Romney did not come out in support of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and you may recall this past summer, when he called WI Gov. Scott Walker a hero (the same Gov. Scott who repealed the Equal Pay Enforcement Act in his own state). Eventually, after much question dodging, Romney’s campaign said they support equal pay for women, after it became apparent how unwelcome a lack of support was to voters. But apparently in Romney’s world, closing the gender pay gap means giving women grownup jobs, and feeling super progressive for doing so. High five in the 1950s, y’all! Actually addressing the issue of the whole 80 cents to the dollar thing was beyond his reach, though.

He went on to talk about the importance of making sure that work hours for women folk are flexible, so that they can go home and take care of all their children. I presume these children will be the harbingers of the population boom that will be an after-effect of destroying female reproductive liberties, and as we all know, population explosions are a great economic stimulus plan.

This is his answer on unequal pay, you guys. He avoided the actual question, and instead went off on how great it will be that women can work part time and focus on their housewifery. The thought that men may choose to partake of family duties, or that perhaps the diverse array of couples in this country have a personal choice over how to divide roles and manage their lives, doesn’t seem to have occurred to Romney. Nor, apparently, did the idea that a woman can exist without birthing a litter.

In one fell swoop, Romney was not only displaying a spectacular show of blatant sexism, he was also preaching a specific lifestyle and showing a plan that benefits only those who fit into his idea of how life should be lived. I can totally see how he spent all those years as a missionary. In his world, women not only all choose to have babies and are solely responsible for actively raising them, they are all looking for a way to put their careers on the backburner. Young professionals aren’t an actual thing, right? I know I had ten kids as soon as I got my first period (you know, test-runs), and my job is just for funsies!.

But hey, Romney’s not sexist, because he went out of his way to include the women folk! Sure, the part of the process that left a mark on him was organizing them into easily perusable documents (and what’s more humanizing than that), but look at how progressive he is, being open to hiring them at all! Romney wrapped up his answer by citing statistics on women’s unemployment and poverty, but instead of saying that he thinks it’s important to pay them the same amount for the same work as men, he thinks that boosting the economy as a whole should be good enough for all of us. Obama at least took the time to discuss realistic women’s issues regarding equal pay, and even used words like “glass ceiling”, which leads me to believe he’s read at least two chapters into any given gender & econ textbook. But then, he’s the one who signed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into effect.

The debate, more than anything else, reflected the tension and increasing hostility of this race. Despite the massive threat to the income, personal liberties, and reproductive rights of half the country’s population, the main topic was jobs and the economy. Because that hasn’t been discussed enough, nor will it ever be, and 90 minutes is certainly not enough for either candidate to sum up their position and move on to other topics. OK fine, they spent three whole minutes on immigration. Basically, nobody won, and we all continue to lose. Please go vote so that none of this will have been in vain.

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