Which is worse: Romney's 'binders' or Obama's 'optimal?'

Wow, you'd think that Republican presidential candidate Romney set fire to a battered women's shelter when he said he had a "binder" of qualified women to appoint to his cabinet as Massachusetts governor.

Makes me want to ask the Obama partisans: Is  "binders of women" the best ya got? Can there be a more idiotic reason for hating Mitt Romney and voting for Barack Obama because Romney assembled a pool of women he wanted to appoint to his cabinet? What if he had said he had assembled a "list" of qualified women? Tsk.

What the hell, what if he had appointed no women to his cabinet? Now that would have been something to shriek about. But no, it has been elevated to a litmus test of some kind; a reason  for some Obama partisans to squeeze out discussion of serious issues.

I like this analysis of how the adoption of the "binder" issue is an act desperation by the Obama campaign.

Thursday brought a lot of good news for Mitt Romney’s campaign. National polls continue to move in his direction, with poll results starting to take into account the first day of polling after Tuesday night’s debate (though obviously we’ll need several more days of polling to see how the event affected the race). In Ohio, which could determine the outcome of the election, CNN reports that Republicans are significantly improving in early voting from four years ago, a key to winning the state. And the Romney campaign isso confident of victory in North Carolina (which Obama won last time) that it’s starting to pull staff out of the state. But the best sign for Romney may have actually been the the Obama campaign’s decision to make the main takeaway Tuesday’s debate Romney’s comment that he received “binders full of women” when he was trying to hire females to top positions as governor of Massachusetts.

I'm sure that if Romney had known that it would have caused such hysterical (and hysterically funny) reactions, he would have picked another word. But Romney isn't the only one to come up with a poor choice of words.

Listen to this word choice by Obama: 

Optimal? No, Mr. President, the murder of a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans in a planned act of terrorism  is not "optimal."

Jon Stewart  said to  Obama on the  Daily Show (what's a president doing there?)  that it didn't seem to be the  "most optimal response" at least  to the American people. Obama replied "if four Americans get killed it's not optimal."

The Free Dictionary defines the adjective "optimal" as the most desirable possible result under a restriction expressed or implied, as in "an optimum return on capital."

Conservatives have picked this up as a sign of Obama's insensitivity to the seriousness of the situation. So has the mother of one of those murdered.  'My Son Is Not Very Optimal — He Is Very Dead') It appears to be Obama's effort to minimize the blunder of not protecting our overseas personnel. But he was using the word the Stewart had used in a different meaning. I'm sure if Obama had foreseen the negative reaction, he too would have used a better word. Or maybe not.

Extemporaneous speech can often be dangerous. But to suggest that Romney's use of the word "binder" in any other than its neutral sense, or to claim that it reveals a deep-down antipathy toward women is idiotic.

And I don't use the word carelessly.


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  • The question should be which word choice reveals more about the candidate. These are both petty responses by the campaigns and campaign surrogates to drum up attention and support.

    Obama was responding to Stewart's use of the word "optimal." He didn't use it in a casual way. Of course, there's often no context allowed when a word is simply uttered. Which is why the false "He didn't build that" campaign had legs.

    Romney's binders comment was just a poor choice of words, obviously there are no women in binders. During a long debate things can come out wrong. The reason why this comment resonates, however, is Romney didn't actually request the binders he brought up. So his claim that he was proactive in asking for names of women to consider was false.

  • Jimmy, I think that we agree. As I said, Obama was picking up Jon's word. We both would like the more serious issues to get the spotlight, e.g. the approaching "economic" cliff. But I hear Obama employing the "binders" attack. I could be wrong, but I haven't heard Romney use the "optimal" attack. Or maybe he has, but it just hasn't been reported.

  • In reply to Dennis Byrne:

    Yeah, I think we're on the same page. They've both picked up on the petty stuff. Not sure if Romney himself brought up the "optimal" stuff but surrogates who directs have and that's the same thing. There are degrees of misrepresenting to be aware of and after the elections I'd love to see a truly non-partisan study look at who was worse.

  • The "they didn't build that" statement has resonated because anybody who has read President Obama's memoirs and studied his political proclivities in Chicago and Illinois and now on the federal level, understand that this is essentially the philosophy expounded by those who maintain a statist or more collectivist view of how people should live. There is no mistaking it, but there is misrepresenting it. Obama meant it when he said to an obscure plumber that things are better when the "wealth is spread around". And that spreading will be done by him or someone similar. Hello Solyndra.

    Obama never really walked that "build it" statement back to the satisfaction and belief of the many, many small business owners he insulted. If you ever have owned a small business -- and I do-- the idea that the same road running in front of me and my competitor, who went out of business, is the only reason I am still around.

    This is a fundamental that is the great divide between Obama and Romney, because there is no mistaking their individual positions on how the economy should function, either by central control by Obama or a free enterprise (as much as we can do so anymore) model by Romeny.

  • Richard, well stated.

  • In reply to Dennis Byrne:

    Whether it resonated or not has nothing to do with the lie that was spread about what he said and what he meant. He didn't walk it back because he never said what he supposedly said.

  • In reply to Jimmy Greenfield:

    Sorry, Jimmy, he said it and he meant it. I heard it and the pretext and rejoinder, and there is no other interpretation.

    Have you read Obama's autobiographies? Have you listened to his rhetoric? Have you seen the results of his actions? Obama's regulatory machine has layered enough new mandates on small and big business alike to make Pompeii look like dust on a desk.

    Jimmy, what is wrong with admitting what is obvious to Obama's base: he is a statist. But a statist cannot run as such, because he would never be elected by a country that leans center to right in the majority.

    Even if Obama never made the statement, his actions speak louder and truer than his words.

  • In reply to Richard Davis:

    No Richard, he did not. I heard it and no matter how badly you wish it were true, he didn't say what you want him to have said. And that's my interpretation. The fact that you're telling me there is no other interpretation just tells me you have a closed mind.

    I actually think the country is center to left. Which is why the Democrats have won the majority or a plurality of the popular vote in every presidential election except one since 1992.

  • In reply to Jimmy Greenfield:

    Jimmy, setting aside what the President did or did not say in that instance, his autobiographies, his rhetoric and his actions tell us quite clearly what his intentions were and are.

    You can think that the country is center to left, but poll after poll over the years has shown otherwise, but you are, of course, welcome to think what you wish, despite the empirical evidence.

    As to having a closed mind? I believe what I believe, just as you believe what you believe. I won't insult you by saying that you have a "closed" mind, whatever that is, but your telling me that Obama meant one thing and one thing only is your version of a closed mind.

    Also, Obama's base, the people he is doing his best to appeal to, are statists of one sort or another. They believe in bigger and better government, no? Yes, they do. I think we can both truthfully admit that.

    Is there something wrong with Obama being a statist? Do you not yourself wish for more and better and bigger government? For the life of me I do not understand why statists will not admit to their identity.

    There is room for all opinions, some based on rational thought and other based on utopian thought.

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