18 October 2012

Mitt Romney's 'binders full of women' were not what he claims

Mitt Romney's story about "binders full of women" has had quite an impact on the Internet. There is a slight problem with it however: it is not true. A nice example of why evidence matters.

The first thing I had to think of when Mitt Romney told the story about the 'binders full of women' was what is arguably the best sitcom ever made, the unsurpassed 'Yes, (Prime) Minister'. In the fifteenth episode, 'Equal Opportunities', the Minister of Administrative Affairs Jim Hacker, decides that he wants to implement a 25% quotum of women in top government jobs. His permanent secretary, Sir Humphrey Appleby, is appalled and successfully derails the plan.

There is, however, one woman the Minister can promote: under-secretary Sarah Harrison. Unfortunately for the Minister, she doesn't appreciate being patronised and being part of a 25% quotum and refuses the offer: 'And thank you. I know you both mean well.'

How is this relevant to Mitt Romney's story? It seems to express what he really thinks, and what his real intentions are.

It turns out that the story Mitt Romney told us is inaccurate. He did not ask anyone to bring him some women, it was the other way around, the women came to him.

A non-partisan organisation known as MassGAP (Massachusetts Government Appointments Project) was founded under the leadership of the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus (MWPC) in 2002, before the gubernatorial election. The organisation approached the campaigns of Shannon O'Brien and Mitt Romney and asked them to:

(1).“Make best efforts” to ensure that the number of women in appointed state positions is proportionate to the population of women in Massachusetts
(2). Select a transition team whose composition is proportionate to the women in the Commonwealth
(3). Meet with MassGAP representatives regularly during the appointments process.

According to MWPC, both campaigns committed to the process. Before Romney came to power, women comprised approximately 30 percent of appointed senior-level positions in Massachusetts government. This went up to 42 percent in the beginning of his tenure, and then went down to about 25 percent, which is lower than before and after Mitt Romney's time as governor.

As a consequence, it seems that the story as Mitt Romney told it is largely wrong. It also does reveal that Mitt Romney is not particularly interested in women. How else can we explain his claim that he had to ask for women? How is it even possible that (almost) no qualified women were part of his campaign?

Furthermore, what is the meaning of the "flexibility story"? It seems to indicate that he expects women to not only work full-time jobs but to take full-time care of their children as well. Is this man really the man who intends to help rectify the appalling claims and aspirations of his fellow Republicans?

In the New Testament, women are treated as lowly underlings. They are expected to serve men, and to keep quiet. Jesus leads by example with respect to this principle. St. Paul is is quite explicit as well. For example:

1 Corinthians 11
11:8 For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man.
11:9 Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.

It seems that Mitt Romney is not lying when he talks about his religion. He is doing exactly what his god tells him to. In the face of all his lies, it is refreshing to learn that he is able to tell the truth, even if this is rare.

He scares me silly.

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