If so much weren’t at stake, we could watch these presidential debates the same way we watch football: we’d root for our favorite team, get psyched when there’s a sack, and jump up and down every time we put one through the uprights. And we’d be ordering deep-dish pizza each time the candidates faced off.
But the spectacles we’ve witnessed these past few weeks have broad consequences in the real world. What’s at stake matters to every citizen in this country, or at least it should. Like football this season, it was unfortunate that the first debate had a third-rate ref. Note to Jim Lehrer: buh-bye.
Yet what strikes us are the same things that seem to capture the attention of everyone — not the candidates stating their views on specific topics and platforms. No. What gets the spin over and over again are the sound bites, the gaffes, the fumbles. All of us watching have turned into Monday morning quarterbacks, kvelling and kvetching over the way our teams performed.
No one contests that the first debate resulted in a win for Romney. Of course, that was due to the fact that Obama was a no-show, a default, a withdrawal, an absentee. Not a good game plan.
The second debate, or what we like to think of as the vice-presidential half-time show, was a lively exchange between Joe Biden’s dentures and Paul Ryan’s water bottle. Depending on whom you were rooting for, it was a draw.
Last Tuesday’s presidential debate was a game changer. For starters, both men showed up, and both came ready to compete. Candy Crowley did her part keeping the fighting clean, and short of throwing a flag on the play, pretty much kept each man to his time limit.
None of this matters, however, because all anyone is talking about is that “binders of women.”
The question, from debate attendee Katherine Fenton, was: “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?”
President Obama answered by citing his support for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, pointing out specifically that it was the first piece of legislation he signed as President.
Governor Romney’s response never mentioned a word about pay equity. Instead he shared the story of how during his administration he had trouble finding qualified women for his cabinet and so was given “binders full of women.” Furthermore, he took pride in the fact that he had provided flexibility in the workplace, allowing women on his staff the ability to get home in time to make dinner.
No matter how you spin it, this was an offensive play by Romney.
As you may have heard, Mitt Romney is now being compared to Don Draper. You know, the 1950’s ad exec from Mad Men. He’s good looking, and smooth, and you kind of want to work with him. And sure, he’ll allow women in the workplace. Why not? They look nice. Someone has to make the coffee, right? Or, in Romney’s case, someone has to make caffeine-free, alcohol-free, nicotine-free refreshments. Skim latte, anyone, hold the espresso?
Anyone of those smart, qualified women housed in those binders can go fetch lunch. Gals in the workplace are a swell idea. Especially if the company doesn’t have to pay for their contraception.
At this point, we feel compelled to go back to watching the final debate the same way college kids watch football … and maybe even the same way some college kids watch the debates. They play drinking games. From now on, every time Governor Romney says, “I care about women,” chug. Maybe it will make it easier to believe him.