Mitt Romney, (Affirmative) Action Hero

Everyone’s talking about Romney’s “binder full of women” comment last night and it’s clear that, once again, he lied. But I think it’s worth taking a second look at it anyway:

ROMNEY: Thank you. And 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.

I was proud of the fact that after I staffed my Cabinet and my senior staff, that the University of New York in Albany did a survey of all 50 states, and concluded that mine had more women in senior leadership positions than any other state in America.

Atrios make a very good point that I don’t think I’ve heard from anyone else:

Jokes aside, the binders of women comment was basically the core of all of the mostly mythical affirmative action in this country. It’s about recognizing that if you’re a product of a good old white boy network, it’s a good idea to make the effort to read those binders, to make the extra effort to look at qualified women and minorities.

This isn’t a comment on what actually happened when Mitt was in office, just pointing out that if you embrace that story you embrace affirmative action, because aside from a teeny bit of minority business contracting and civil service hiring provisions, that’s what affirmative action actually means in this country.

Romney made a great case for affirmative action, something his party adamantly opposes. But it’s so common sense that he could say it in the debate and nobody even noticed. Not even Fox.