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Binders Full of Distortion | The Nation

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John Nichols

John Nichols

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Binders Full of Distortion

Mitt Romney did himself no favors with his claim that he turned to “binders full of women” to find appointees for his gubernatorial administration in Massachusetts.

Even his own aides and allies acknowledge that, like his “47 percent” talk, the “binders” reference was—to borrow a phrase form Paul Ryan—“inelegant.”

Social media makers are lampooning Romney. Able journalists such as The Nation’s George Zornick referenced it in highlighting the bogus nature of the former governor’s claims about his “accomplishments” in Masscahusetts. And President Obama is having a field day with the line.

But the worst part about bindergate is that the underlying story Romney told—of a new governor giving the order to find qualified women for top jobs in his administration—is a fantasy.

Or, as the Boston Phoenix puts it after the Republican presidential candidate told his tale in the debate: “Mitt Romney was lying about it."

In Tuesday night’s debate, Romney responded to a question about pay equity by saying:

[This is] an important topic, and one which I learned a great deal about, particularly as I was serving as governor of my state, because I had the chance to pull together a cabinet and all the applicants seemed to be men.

And I—and I went to my staff, and I said, “How come all the people for these jobs are—are all men.” They said, “Well, these are the people that have the qualifications.” And I said, “Well, gosh, can’t we—can’t we find some—some women that are also qualified?”

And—and so we—we took 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.

There’s just one problem with that story. Newly elected Governor Mitt Romney wasn’t the one who launched the “concerted effort” that filled those binders with the résumés of qualified women.

What Romney said is “not a true story,” according to veteran Massachusetts political writer David S. Bernstein.

Bernstein writes:

What actually happened was that in 2002—prior to the election, not even knowing yet whether it would be a Republican or Democratic administration—a bipartisan group of women in Massachusetts formed MassGAP to address the problem of few women in senior leadership positions in state government. There were more than forty organizations involved with the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus (also bipartisan) as the lead sponsor.

They did the research and put together the binder full of women qualified for all the different cabinet positions, agency heads, and authorities and commissions. They presented this binder to Governor Romney when he was elected.

I have written about this before, in various contexts; tonight I’ve checked with several people directly involved in the MassGAP effort who confirm that this history as I’ve just presented it is correct—and that Romney’s claim tonight, that he asked for such a study, is false.

Talk about post-truth politics!

Mitt Romney’s takes it to a new level. He’s not just rewriting his opponent’s record. He’s rewriting his own history.

What next? The story of how he created a healthcare reform plan that was just like Obamacare, only different?

Oh, right.

For more of Romney's lies about women, check out Bryce Covert on his falsely claimed support for contraception and pay equity.

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