Throughout this election cycle, ever since that Halftime in America commercial during the Super Bowl, I have worried about how much people, especially women, want to vote for Obama despite their disappointment. They want to believe him. They want to have hope. And they certainly don’t want to be lumped in with those cruel-hearted women of the Right. Giving up on Obama is a potential political Dark Night of the Soul.
In their resistance, I’ve seen and heard much twisted reasoning in the past months. They look for any ray of light in Obama’s abstract musings. They recoil from any concrete good done by Romney. So it is with the “binders full of women” meme. They are punning to avoid a positive fact about Romney: he has a standout record of seeking and appointing women to his Massachusetts administration.
To illustrate: if Romney had said “stacks of applications from women,” there would be no meme. The press and defensive women, afraid of the polling data that women are breaking for Romney, have seized upon the omission of the word “application” and the connotations of “binder”—not just the plastic-ringed notebook but also the notion of restraining—to pretend that a Romney administration bodes ill for women in government.
In truth, the binder meme says the opposite. Romney’s choice of words illustrates a concrete memory. He remembers someone bringing him a binder full of applications from women. Romney went through that binder and appointed many of those women to office. It all happened. It is all part of his record. Not only does he remember the physical binder, but he also remembers the women, not merely the applications on paper. But for silly wordplay, we would be talking about Romney’s impressive record for women in government.
Of course, if we did that, then we might need to talk about Obama’s history of women in government, and that’s complicated. Obama answered Romney’s memory of appointing women to his administration with an abstract and off-point thought about his future hopes for his daughters: may they have the same opportunities as men. Obama often answers in abstracts because the facts are not in his favor. Obama’s record with women in his administration is dark and murky. Just this week, he threw Hillary Clinton under the bus as damage control for the debacle in the aftermath of the Benghazi attack. Last summer, in Ron Suskind’s book Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington and the Education of a President, Obama faced criticism that his administration was a hostile work environment for women. When the book came out, the women who were quoted accusing the administration claimed that they were misquoted, and women’s groups, usually quick to pounce upon any allegations of hostile work environment, refused to comment.
Women of the left are so well-trained by the conventional wisdom that they reflexively reject promising evidence on the right and prop up weak evidence on the left. They will believe what they want to believe, regardless of the evidence. Hopefully independent women are more astute.