Gender is such a volatile aspect of the post-debate analysis, only an asshole with a dick would follow up some flippant sing-song bullshit post with another attempt at acknowledging the obvious: chicks aren’t doing so well in this particular political cycle.
Of the three presidential debates, Candy Crowley represents the sole female moderating voice tasked with shaping the two-dude rhetorical tango we got to see last night. Here’s what Alyssa Rosenberg had to say in her ThinkProgress piece about that before last night’s debate:
It’s already frustrating that the lone female moderator for the presidential debates was assigned to the town hall-format debate, a setting where the Gallup Organization picks the audience, who in turn get to submit questions. Crowley can cut questions and order them, and there is room for her to ask follow-up questions, though she is obviously constrained by the subjects the attendees prioritize. Through both the first presidential debate and the lone vice-presidential debate, there’s been a single question asked about issues that particularly concern women, Martha Raddatz’s query about how Vice President Biden and Congressman Ryan’s religious beliefs affected their personal views of abortion. There are a lot of questions that could be posed about the candidate’s national approaches to abortion policy alone, not to mention the inquiries that moderators, male and female alike, could make into the many creeping restrictions on women’s reproductive health and autonomy on the state level.It’s frustrating that women should have to be responsible for raising questions about issues like contraception or pay equity, which of course affect men as well. But given that it seems that if women and the men who care about these issues care about these issues want to see them discussed, women have to ask them ourselves, it’s difficult to see Crowley assigned the debate with this format and its limitations.
Women got short-changed in the first debate, so expectations were high.
And how did Mitt respond?
He said stuff like this:
Now, one of the reasons I was able to get so many good women to be part of that team was because of our recruiting effort, but number two, because I recognized that if you’re going to have women in the workforce, that sometimes they need to be more flexible. My chief of staff, for instance, had two kids that were still in school. She said, I can’t be here until 7:00 or 8:00 at night. I need to be able to get home at 5:00 so I can be there for — making dinner for my kids and being with them when they get home from school. So we said, fine, let’s have a flexible schedule so you can have hours that work for you.
We’re going to have to have employers in the new economy, in the economy I’m going to bring to play, that are going to be so anxious to get good workers they’re going to be anxious to hire women. In the — in the last four years, women have lost 580,000 jobs. That’s the net of what’s happened in the last four years. We’re still down 580,000 jobs. I mentioned 3 1/2 million women more now in poverty than four years ago.
What we can do to help young women and women of all ages is to have a strong economy, so strong that employers are looking to find good employees and bringing them into their workforce and adapting to a — a flexible work schedule that gives women the opportunities that — that they would otherwise not be able to — to afford.
Oh Mitt! Cheerio, good boy.
I am favorably disposed toward both full employment and flexible workplace scheduling. But what Romney is saying here is that due to their family responsibilities women are burdened with an inherent disadvantage in the labor market. In conditions of full employment, firms do become desperate for workers and are willing to do things they won’t do in weak labor market. High-margin businesses, for example, hand out raises to competent experienced workers. And firms of all kinds take risks on people they wouldn’t otherwise go for—those who lack formal credentials, those who might have had legal problems in the past, smart people who seem to lack experience, and so forth. Romney’s suggestion is that a woman—at least a woman with a family—is basically like a high school dropout with a felony conviction in his background. A marginally employable worker who’ll get a job if and only if the labor market is super-tight. After all, everyone knows mom needs to be home at 5:00 to start cooking dinner.
But maybe dad should cook dinner!
After all, not every job can be flexible. When I was little my mother worked in the art department for Newsweek and it simply wouldn’t have been possible for someone to perform that job without working very long hours a couple of days a week. Since you want your newsweekly to be reasonably timely, a huge share of the final proofing and layout decisions have to be made as close to the shipping day as possible. That means you work incredibly long hours on the closing days, and compensating time off at other points in the week. If you’re a parent in a job like that, someone else has to take care of your kids when you’re closing the issue. As it happens, my dad wasn’t much of a cook at that point in his life and my recollection is that we would usually order pizza. But one way or another, it was quality family time and cherished childhood memories for me as well as a totally indispensible offloading of childcare responsibilities that were simply incompatible with my mom’s job.
Note from the quote above Matt Yglesias is the product of a traditional two-parent household. That’s probably why he hasn’t contributed to the uniquely American epidemic of gun violence yet. Because, according to Romney, there is a direct connection between gun violence and the parent-to-kid ratio.
I’m no Nate Silver, but I will make a brash prediction: there will be women voting for Mitt Romney, like probably in the thousands.
Who are they, and what are they thinking?