By now you would have to have been under a rock on a desert island not to have heard Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's debate gaffe that he solicited and obtained "binders full of women" as potential appointees after he was elected governor of Massachusetts in 2002.
To many, the comment was either sexist or unenlightened -- or at least politically incorrect -- or all of the above. In reality, however, the hoopla over it probably overlooks a greater issue: whether it gives us insight into Romney's competence and, folks, whether he is competent to do the job is a huge issue in this election, especially for undecided voters.
Let's shun the emotions and politics for a moment and analyze Romney's remarks. He had just been elected governor on the GOP ticket. Presumably -- hopefully -- there were women of prominence and competence involved in his campaign. Around the country there are scores of women in our state houses and my experience is that the Republican party is blessed with many of the best and the brightest. In that sense Romney should have known who those women were off the top of his head. Not to have demonstrated such knowledge in 2002 raises legitimate questions over his own competence. And lest we forget, Romney succeeded Acting Governor Jane Swift -- a Republican. He certainly didn't have very far to go if he needed counsel.
Certainly many people were taken aback by Romney's reference to his "binders full of women" but the real offensiveness of that comment lies far beyond the surface.