Last night's presidential debate differed dramatically from the first in many ways. First, moderator Candy Crowley was engaged and in control, despite both candidates' overages, interruptions, cherry-picking, and exaggerations. Second, President Obama himself was engaged and in control. He made some truly brilliant points and articulated some thoughtful rebuttals.
Governor Romney remained much the same -- same expression, same manner, and same fictitious talking points that ought to have been fact-checked out of his arsenal by now. But he did touch on a point that he'd previously outsourced to his wife, Ann: Women.
The discussion of his Massachusetts cabinet was brief, but it was extremely telling. Asked about workplace inequality, he eschewed the opportunity to comment on the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and spoke instead of how "all the applicants seemed to be men" when he put together his cabinet. Massachusetts women's groups brought him "binders full of women", which helped lead to an admittedly diverse cabinet.
Points for Romney for wanting women in his cabinet. Problem is, why didn't he know any himself?
Never mind the fact that the so-called "binders full of women" had been assembled long before Governor Romney took office, certainly not at his behest. Hadn't he ever worked with any women whose performance merited consideration for his cabinet?
In any executive position, be it CEO or governor or president, there's a fantastic opportunity to surround yourself with people whom you personally know to be excellent performers. I blinked at the word "applicants," wondering if he didn't mean "appointees." Were these positions advertised on Monster.com? For all of Governor Romney's private sector experience, shouldn't he know dozens, even hundreds, of qualified folks that he'd want to work with as governor?
Instead of underscoring Romney's supposed commitment to workplace equality, the example he cited demonstrated a historical lack of diversity in his workplace experience. Had he made a concerted effort over his years in the private sector to recruit qualified women, he wouldn't have had to rely on any binders. He would have had plenty of appointees in mind right in his own Rolodex.
Governor Romney didn't even know enough women to staff his Massachusetts cabinet without outside help. What would this mean for representation of women in his presidential cabinet?
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