October 17, 2012

Wearing the Binders: Romney Can't Talk to Women

Tweeted by his body man, Garrett Jackson, just before Romney walked onstage, this photo impressed me as presaging tension between Crowley and Romney. I assumed that was because Romney defies rules and boundaries. As much, though, it’s because Romney can’t talk to women.

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This screenshot was taken at the 38:59 mark, near the end of Romney’s at length description of the role of women in his administration in Massachusetts. In this instant, he is talking (on an “equal pay” question) about providing women on his staff with flexibility regarding hours, enabling the mothers, for example, to get home in time to cook dinner.

As you can tell, most of the audience members look bored (the two younger boys in the middle aren’t even paying attention), and, more significantly, most of the women look skeptical and askance. If Mitt sounded more patronizing than compassionate, in the midst of his clearest opportunity to stand before the women of America, it showed. (You can compare the same audience members responding to Obama in a frame from Getty in our post last night.)

If this shot from Getty is a little odd, I think it’s different not just intrinsically  but because of Romney. If the prominence of this woman’s long white hair and prominent white hairclip requires us to bring ourselves to the photo in a more personal way, there is Mitt, in his awkward Mitt-ness (and not helped at all before a field of men), wearing that smile typically reserved for the pancake breakfast on the weekend retreat with the sales force.

In The New Yorker, reflecting on the “binders of women” quote, Amy Davidson describes that “Romney didn’t find women where he might have, and then abruptly saw them in places, and in answers to questions, where they didn’t really fit.” What you could tell from last evening is that he just can’t come across.

Full recording via NYT.

(photo 1: Mitt’s Body Man @dgjackson. caption: Gov about to take the stage.photo 2: debate screen grab from NYT recording. photo 3: Rick Wilking-Pool/Getty Images. caption: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney listens to a question during a town hall style debate with U.S. President Barack Obama at Hofstra University October 16, 2012 in Hempstead, New York. During the second of three presidential debates, the candidates fielded questions from audience members on a wide variety of issues.)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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