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Susan Estrich
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Whole Binders Full of Women?


Everybody will be writing about how a different Barack Obama came out Tuesday night from the one we saw in the first debate. True enough. On Tuesday night, the president took the stage and fought for his presidency: strong, assertive, intense, defending his record, criticizing his opponent, well-schooled on both of their records, a commander in chief in command.

He channeled some Joe Biden, telling Mitt Romney he was wrong. He managed to get the "47 percent" in as his closing (whew). He reminded everyone, repeatedly, about just how rich Romney is and how low his tax rate is. In short, he did what most people expected him to do the first time around. Even Karl Rove, President George W. Bush's guru, acknowledged that the president turned in a "good" performance — which from Rove is high praise.

And clearly, the president knew he'd done well. Unlike last time, when Romney lingered in the afterglow and the president beat a hasty retreat, Obama was still shaking hands long after the network feeds were cut and the Romneys had exited the stage. Believe me, having stood behind those curtains, you don't want your candidate to be the first to leave.

As for Romney, while the contrast between the first debate and this one was not as stark, and maybe some of that was the result of being held to a new standard against a real opponent, he seemed a lesser candidate. Yes, we know, you've been in the private sector so you must know how to do x and y, even if you're not going to tell us. He attacked the president regarding when he said "act of terror" to the point that moderator Candy Crowley (hooray for Crowley, by the way) had to tell him he was wrong. He played games on assault weapons (He was against them in Massachusetts because the pro-gun people were against them there; whereas the NRA opposes bans.) and access to contraception (Sure, women should have access, and they do thanks to the Supreme Court, but the issue is whether employers can decide to exclude it from your health plan, which Romney supports.) He attacked the president for not promoting an immigration reform plan that Romney and his party staunchly oppose.

I know, I could go on and on. But then, I'm one of those breathing a sigh of relief that Obama is back.

But the line I will always remember from this debate is not any of those. It's about the binders.

Asked about pay equity for women, the president told the story of Lilly Ledbetter, the woman who was denied equal pay for equal work and was then told she couldn't bring suit because she should have known earlier. For his turn, Romney told the story of picking his cabinet as governor of Massachusetts. "I had the chance to pull together a cabinet, and all the applicants seemed to be men," Romney said. "And I went to my staff, and I said, 'How come all the people for these jobs are all men?' They said, 'Well, these are the people that have the qualifications.'" So he asked the (men) to make "a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet. I went to a number of women's groups and said, 'Can you help us find folks?' and they brought us whole binders full of women."

I have been making "whole binders full of women" for more than three decades. I made them when I worked on the Senate Judiciary Committee and the issue was picking judges — in 1979. I made them when I joined the Harvard faculty and the issue was hiring faculty — in 1981. I made them when I was part of the "A Team": the self-appointed group of activists determined to get a woman on the Democratic ticket in 1984. I made them in campaigns to ensure that there were senior women in every area, including in the campaign I ran in 1988. Catalyst, the national organization that promotes women to serve on corporate boards, has been making them since the 1980s.

How is it possible that we're still talking — and not just talking, but boasting — about "whole binders full of women" in the 2012 election?

How can it be that a man with as much experience as Romney tells us he told his (presumably) all-male staff to go to women's groups and was proud to discover that, yes, indeed, there were "whole binders full of qualified women." Did he need binders to know that we were there, are there, in every area, with every skill set, with every level of experience, asking only to be treated fairly, as people?

He may discover just how many there are on Election Day.

To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at



14 Comments | Post Comment
Ms. Estrich wrote:
"He reminded everyone, repeatedly, about just how rich Romney is and how low his tax rate is."

What is your point here? Is it that being rich is bad and disqualifies you from being the President? What about FDR, JFK, and Senator Kerry? Or is his tax rate the point? For Maud Dib's sake, who pays more taxes than they need too (e.g., Senator Kerry and his yacht)? What Tax rate did JFK, FDR, and Senator Kerry pay? Do you think they were in the top tax bracket? Mitt Romney paid more federal tax last year than all the followers of this Blog are likely to pay in a lifetime. Why is that bad? Why aren't we asking who donated most to charity?

Given that the IRS isn't after Mitt, I have to say he is paying his fair share. This constant harping on his wealth is naked class warfare. Just a cheap shot at the candidate with NO substance to back it up.

Further Ms. Estrich wrote:
"Even Karl Rove, President George W. Bush's guru, acknowledged that the president turned in a "good" performance — which from Rove is high praise."

Or maybe Rove was just polite. Perhaps Joe Biden should take note?

Finally, Ms Estrich also wrote:
"How is it possible that we're still talking — and not just talking, but boasting — about "whole binders full of women" in the 2012 election?"

What is your point here? Romney went out of his way to ensure women were considered for his cabinet. Why is this bad? Would you have prefered that he just accepted the all male lists? What do you want from this man?

Could we please argue substance here?
Comment: #1
Posted by: Old Navy
Wed Oct 17, 2012 2:08 PM
It would be nice if Mitt Romney's lie about the binder was true as he told it but it is a total fabrication. Here is the truth.
PRIOR TO let me repeat that PRIOR TO Mitt Romney taking office, Various women's groups put together binder with women's resumes and took them to the Romney transition team and DEMANDED that women be considered for jobs in the Romney administration.
Romney turned that around to make it seem as if HE was the one who went out and SOUGHT women for jaobs in his administration. Then Romney proceeded to say that there were no women of importance working in the Obama Administration........I guess Romney forgot about Hillary Clinton,,,I guess Romney forgot about about the two women that President Obama appointed to the Supreme Court in an attempt to balance the gender disparity on the Court. Did Romney forget that our Ambassador to the UN is a woman??
And finally, the very first piece of legislation this president signed into law was the so-called Lily Lebetter Act which allows women to sue in court employers who discriminate against them on the basis of their sex. Paul Ryan voted AGAINST THAT ACT and The Romney campaign has said that Mitt Romney opposes the act.
The Romney/Ryan ticket does not favor any legislation that empowers women. They are still thinking like men for the 1950's
Comment: #2
Posted by: robert lipka
Wed Oct 17, 2012 2:59 PM
This whole column, being so vacuous and such a crock of ...... highlights that little barry boy offered nothing last night and indeed has nothing to offer, notwitstanding the assistance from obama's paid off Candy girl who just happened to have a transript of the Rose Garden speech and who barry boy knew had the transcript.

Estrich, in desperation and after a series of banalities, was reduced to writing about the phrase "whole binders full of women". How utterly pathetic!

Referring to women " with every skill set, with every level of experience" Estrich posits without making any dicernable point that" [h]e [Romney] may discover just how many there are on Election Day"

Agreed !

Contrary to what Estrich and other feminists believe, not all women are simply female progressives, not all women want to murder all children in the womb. Not all women believe that the child they carry is just an unimportant collection of cells to be disposed of in a trash can.

Contray to the ideology of the feminists, women can and do think for themselves. Most women are not sheeple to be herded by progressives and Democrats. Most women are not just empty vessels to be patronized and taken for granted as progressives and Democrats constantly do when practicing their identity politics. Neither are most women idiots to be fooled with a childish snark about binders as Estrich clearly believes they are.

Oh granted some who call themselves women are all of the foregoing and it is they upon whom Estrich and her ilk count.

But, those women, who are not simply idiotic one dimensional feminists buying the obama lies, those women with intellect, those women who run businesses, who run household budgets, who understand simple economics, who know how to balance a checkbook, those who understand the evils of the credit card, who want a future for their husbands, their significant others, their children and themselves, those women that understand the existential threat obama poses to America, those women who understand common decency and morality will (as they are doing now) continue to desert barry boy and he and Governor Romney will indeed discover just how many there are.

But it will be Governor Romney that will be smiling.
Comment: #3
Posted by: joseph wright
Wed Oct 17, 2012 3:22 PM

Re: robert lipka
........I guess Romney forgot about Hillary Clinton,,,I guess Romney forgot about about the two women that President Obama appointed to the Supreme Court in an attempt to balance the gender disparity on the Court. Did Romney forget that our Ambassador to the UN is a woman?

The four women that Lipka highlights have at least this in common they have all prostituted themselves for the liberal progressive hate America cause and they are all proven repeat liars.

As regards clinton in particular, was there ever such a doormat, ever such an abused woman, ever such a pathetic creature, constantly left to pick up the ugly mess left after the men in her life ,to wit, slick willie and barry boy threw her under the bus. LOL ! What an example for young women. LOL! She demonstrates, on the world stage, precislely hoe what a woman devoid of honor or integrity looks and acts!
Comment: #4
Posted by: joseph wright
Wed Oct 17, 2012 3:35 PM
Lipka wrote:
"PRIOR TO Mitt Romney taking office, Various women's groups put together binder with women's resumes and took them to the Romney transition team and DEMANDED that women be considered for jobs in the Romney administration."

If true, this occurrence seems almost otherworldly. Did these "women's groups" endorse Romney for Governor, work actively in his campaign, or vote for him. I kind of doubt it. If these groups did none of these things, why do they feel entitled to any of the positions in the administration of a Governor they actively opposed? This would be like the Republican party providing Obama a binder full of Republican resumes and DEMANDING that they be considered for jobs in his administration. By the way, just how many Republicans are there in the Obama cabinet?

Lets face it, to the victor goes the spoils. When a candidate is elected to high office, he/she is entitled to place people in his/her administration that think like he/she does and have the same values and goals. Nothing requires positions to be 'fairly' dealt out to all parties. If these groups did indeed do what is described, it show either an immense sense of entitlement or a complete lack of understanding of how the real world works. Maybe even both given these were no doubt "Progressive" groups. How do these types of people survive in the real world? No wonder they want a nanny government. It is the only way they could ever avoid extinction.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Old Navy
Wed Oct 17, 2012 4:47 PM
Re: Old Navy
Note that Lipka has yet to mention the repeat lies by barry boy, including the damned lie he told last night about naming the attack on our people in Libya an act ot terror when he was speaking in the Rose Garden.

Lipka has no interest in truth.
Comment: #6
Posted by: joseph wright
Wed Oct 17, 2012 5:05 PM
Susan writes:
He reminded everyone, repeatedly, about just how rich Romney is and how low his tax rate is. In short, he did what most people expected him to do the first time around.

Obama points out how rich Romney is as if it were a crime. Besides the fact that it never appears a crime for Democrats to be rich, such highlights a major difference between socialist liberals and conservatives.

Obama (liberals), out of Envy, looks at a rich man and says no person should have so much, and steals what he can from the rich to share the wealth and make everyone equally poor.

Romney (conservatives), out of compassion, looks at a rich man and says everyone should have as much and endeavors to establish a system that allows as many as possible to be as rich.

There is no worst human garbage (and never has been) than those who are “Liberal” full of hate and envy of the success of others.
Comment: #7
Posted by: SusansMirror
Wed Oct 17, 2012 5:32 PM
Who looks, speaks and acts more Presidential? Nuff said!
Comment: #8
Posted by: Oldtimer
Thu Oct 18, 2012 5:42 AM
What is really shocking about the binders discussion is how this author, CNN, Huffington Post, ADC, NBC, CBS, et al. all seem to think this is newsworthy! At the same time, Obama makes statements like he created 5 million jobs, he has expanded Americas energy independence, he's strengthening the middle-class and on & on and yet no one in the mainstrem media is taking him to task! "Excuse me Mr. President, if you've created 5 million jobs over the last four years and clainm this as an achievement, can you explain why the unemployment rate is still almost 8%?" See? It's easy! Yet here are being fed this critical garbage about a figure of speech.
Comment: #9
Posted by: John
Thu Oct 18, 2012 5:44 AM
Don't beleive this 7.8% number for a second. That number is meaningless because they can take "discouraged workers" out of the equation and make the number whatever they want. has the real unemployment around 20%
Comment: #10
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Thu Oct 18, 2012 6:38 AM
Re: Chris McCoy
A conversation between Obama and the Labor Secretary

Obama : I want to talk about the unemployment rate in America .

Lab Sec: Good Subject. Terrible Times. The unemployment rate is about 7.8%.

Obama: That big a percentage of people that are out of work?

lab Sec: No, the percentage of people out of work is nearer 14.7%.

Obama: You just said it was 7.8%.

Lab Sec: I said 7.8% is the unemployment rate.

Obama: Right thats 7.8% out of work.

Lab Sec: No, its 14.7% that are out of work.

Obama: Okay, so it's 14.7% unemployed.

Lab sec; No, the umemployment rate is 7.8% there are 7.8% unemployed but 14.7% are out of work. You told us that we can't count the "Out of Work" as the unemployed. You have to look for work to be unemployed. Its your policy that someone who doesn't look for work can't be counted with those who look for work. That wouldn't be fair to the unemployed looking for work, even though they are ALL out of work.

Obama: Thats right, the unemployed are only those actively looking for work. Those who are out of work are those that gave up looking and if you give up, you are no longer in the ranks of the unemployed.

Lab sec: Thats right, but the good thing is, if they are off the unemployment roles that would count as less unemployment.

Obama: So unemployment would go down. Sounds good!

Lab sec: That right. The unemployment rate goes down just because people give up looking for work.

Obama: Absolutely it goes down. Thats great! That's how my administration will it to below 7.8%. Otherwise it would be 14.7%. We don't want the poeople to read about the truth about 14.7% unemployment.

Lab Sec That would be tough on YOU running for re-election.

Obama: Too bloody true!

lab Sec : So we are agreed then, that there are two ways to bring down the unemployment number?

Obama: Two ways is correct.

lab Sec Unemployment can go down if someone gets a job.

Obama Thats too hard. We can't create jobs and our policies are designed to kill business.

Lab Sec But the unemployment rate goes down if people give up looking for a job?

Obama : Bingo! Now you get it. The easier of the two is to have my administration supporters stop looking for work. Now we are on the same page, get to it and fudge the numbers. Good girl, now bring me my coffee? I just solved the question of unemployment.

Lab Sec: But what about people out of work?

Obama: Screw the people out of worK!
Comment: #11
Posted by: joseph wright
Thu Oct 18, 2012 8:02 AM
It is laughable how Ms. Estrich wants us to focus on the phrase "Binders full of women" like this refers to centerfold pictures or something and yet seems to have absolutely no curiosity about the cover up of event in Libya.

I mean come on will ya. Don't look behind the curtain is kind of an old trick. If President Obama meant the Libya attack, when he made his statement the next day, why did the administration trot out Susan Rice a week later to claim it was the film? If he knew it was an act of terror the next day then why did Vice President Biden claim that "we" were never told it was an act of terror and blame everything on poor intelligence? If he knew it was an act of terror then why did he himself go on saying for the next 2 weeks that it was the film?

People have short attention spans and politicians think we are stupid but I feel insulted by the media, and the liberal pundit express going out of their way to slip this issue to the back pages.

Ms. Estrich you would serve your readership much better if you stop looking for inane tag lines from Mitt Romney that your believe support your candidate re-election and start worrying about why we are not being told the truth about Libya.
Comment: #12
Posted by: david
Thu Oct 18, 2012 9:11 AM
We should be concerned about Obama's binders full of women in poverty. Three million more women are now put in the binders listing people in poverty than were there before he took office. Their opportunities to get a job are much worse and there is a fifty per cent greater chance now that they have to get food stamps. This President has not been good for women. He despises devout Catholic women.

This President does not pay women equal wages for equal work. They get less. There are complaints that his White House is a hostile work environment for women.

Romney's claim that he sought out women candidates for positions in his administration is perfectly consistent with his record, and he does not play the hypocrite.
Comment: #13
Posted by: Cowboy Jay
Thu Oct 18, 2012 10:09 AM who put together The Binders full of Women? Was it Various Women's groups as Mr. Lipka purports, or was it Romney? And so why was it a problem?
Comment: #14
Posted by: Cindy Rella
Tue Oct 23, 2012 6:08 PM
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