The world’s gone loopy, on a post-presidential-debate bender with the word “binder.”
A binder can be either a person or a thing that binds — anything from tar to cheese pizza to a leaf of tobacco wrapped around the innards of a cigar. “Binding” can be a verb, adjective or noun — such as the magic at work in the spine of a book.
Its taut meaning has never been at issue.
Until Mitt Romney’s stuffy reference to “binders full of women” — an attempt to boast of broad-mindedness when it comes to female hiring — sparked a collective groan. Was it because the phrase conjures up torturous images of an age-old Chinese custom of binding women’s feet to make them seem more dainty, a practice resulting in foot deformities especially in elderly women, leaving them unable to squat?
Or was it merely too cold and business-like, evoking the notion of quotas and binding contracts, objectifying women as notches in some boss man’s belt of “diversity”? The idea he couldn’t store ideas of women in his head, that he needed a reference book to find any qualified women to hire.
As a wordsmith, I enjoy seeing a household word get its day in the sun. “Bindergate” now lives alongside such gems — flashes in the pan, really — as Nannygate I and II, Clipgate (Stephen Colbert’s mockery of Fox News’ display of President Obama’s clipped-together jobs bill), and, my favorite, Gategate.
Up until now, the modifier I most associated with binder was “empty.” Romney aides are bound to have their hands full blotting these memes from voters’ minds.
- The “Binders full of women’ meme and coverage (psawomenpolitics.wordpress.com)
- Binder-gate – Cnn (ireport.cnn.com)
- ‘Binders Full of Women’ Illustrates Memes’ Power (rollcall.com)
- Despite Bulging Binders, Mitt Romney Was Awful at Hiring Women as Massachusetts Governor [That’s So Romney] (jezebel.com)
I tuned in, and there’s that word again: “mulligan.” I heard it volleyed by Mitt Romney at last Wednesday’s debate in Simi Valley, Calif. (though I think Rick Perry started it …). Romney was being defensive, saying every candidate deserved to take “a mulligan” or two on bad decisions from the past.
This time, Michele Bachmann lobbed it repeatedly at Rick Perry as one of her talking points — saying that in the case of government-mandated inoculations against a virus that causes cervical cancer, “little girls don’t get a mulligan … they don’t get a do-over.”
I’ll leave it to the pundits to keep score; I just want to know what, exactly, it means.
I’ve heard of mulligan stew — a hodgepodge. It’s Irish, right? Maybe goes well with a swig of something?
Turns out, a “mulligan” relates to scorekeeping in golf. Its etymology is debatable. Could be Scottish; I lose track of who kicked whom out of whose country. First popularized in the 1940s, mulligan refers to a second shot allowed by an opponent after a player hacks his swing.
I thought candidates aimed to be folksy and speak to the American people, not use lexicon straight from the country club.
Maybe the term will come in handy as the 2012 presidential field tries to navigate the obstacle course in the remaining SWING states. (Maybe the mulligan stew even will start thinning out.)