Watching the debate…on Twitter

While I’m quite interested in politics (much as with the Olympics — in a binge every four years or so), I find the debates difficult to watch. The whole format, which rewards distilling points into small bits of time, playing “gotcha” and employing zingers, highlights the worst part of our current politics. Namely, that it’s a war, and for you to win, the other guy has to lose. I also dislike the spectacle of two aggressive guys going after each other. So I decided not to watch it on television.

I did, however, watch the debate…on Twitter. The people I follow on Twitter are all over the political map. So I got the debate highlights, and saw what was working and what wasn’t. A few folks deemed everything Pres. Obama said as brilliant, which got a little tedious. Gov. Romney doesn’t inspire quite the same veneration; he’s not really that kind of public figure. But over thousands of tweets, I could see multiple angles of argument, and further discussion of points the candidates had to eventually drop (like whether Obama called the Libya murders a terrorist attack or not, whether Romney was politicizing it, etc.).

A few other points:

#Bindersfullofwomen — This is a memorable image, and got tweeted all over the place, inspiring various memes. Some folks in the Obama camp are trying to make a point of it, that it makes Romney seem out of touch with women, but I’m not sure why. If you’re trying to staff up a large organization with diverse people, why wouldn’t you ask lots of people for recommendations of candidates?

Comparisons — an interesting question to ask Romney how he’s different from George W. Bush, and one he needs to make a good case for if he wants to be elected. Though the immediate question on Twitter from folks on the right was if Obama would explain how he’s different from Jimmy Carter.

Gun control — perhaps a winning issue for the New York voters in the audience, but both candidates seemed to recognize that it’s not a winning issue in many of the swing states they’re battling over. It’s funny how little this topic has been talked about in this election, given how contentious it’s been in years past. I wonder if some day abortion will be viewed the same way (see my link to column below)

Smart move by Obama to save the “47 percent” for his final statement, when he knew Romney wouldn’t get a chance to rebut. Perhaps anticipating this, Romney gave a bit of a “pre-buttal” but Obama definitely won a strategy point there (which the folks on Twitter whining ‘when is he going to mention the 47 percent?’ all night should have realized).

In other news:

I had a column in yesterday’s USA Today, tied to tightening poll numbers, on “Why women might vote Republican.”

My Fortune piece, looking at the findings from a 1954 survey on executive workweeks, also ran yesterday.

Over at I have a piece called “Want a personal life? Get up early.

In a related vein, I have a post at CBS MoneyWatch called “6 secrets to getting more sleep.”

7 thoughts on “Watching the debate…on Twitter

  1. I don’t tweet, but there was a similar phenomenon if you watched the debate on Facebook. I think the “binders full of women” thing is just a sort of funny meme that makes people laugh (I laughed at the one with Patrick Swayze). I doubt it would have had the same effect if he’d said “binders full of women’s resumes.”

      1. Isis the scientist has a great pic, “You didn’t build that.” (I’m in moderation below, but I link to her post down there.)

        Ms. Vanderkam, could you fish me out of your spam filter? My fault for posting two links!

        1. @NicoleandMaggie- you have been fished out! We have things set pretty tight around here after the attack of the spam bots.

  2. Abortion as the defining issue of our time I agree is a bit out of date. But what isnt out of date is Birth Control. Our society does make birth control more difficult and expensive to get than in Most societies. Look at how medicine is done in most places except america or how many women in china have an iud. I do take issue with reproductive health being the only woman’s issue as I think affordable local childcare, entrepreneurship and women not being penalized as second earner are all important issues that have nothing to do with abortion or birth control per say. I care very much about not having more children t han I can afford and even though I am as an entrepreneur in charge of this pretty much I wouldn’t ever want another woman to find she had to have a child she couldn’t afford or care for. But I do think entrepreneurship, more gov contracts to woman owned businesses, better schools with lower property and other taxes these are all women’s issues and there are many more that never get addressed.

    1. I completely agree. Yes, abortion is an important issue. But I also consider other important issues valuable to women. i.e. birth control and equal pay among sexes. Personally, I find it a bit offensive that more people don’t care about these issues.

  3. Both hush everyone and Isis the scientist had very good explanations of the binder thing, so I won’t explain the way I see it since they do it so eloquently already. But given your previous posts on “having it all” etc., I think you would also agree given the full context. And like both hush and isis, I agree that the big problem isn’t the binders part, but the implicit assumption later on that only (and possibly all) women need to go home to make dinner for their families. That makes the binder comment seem more sinister than it would if he’d say, been for the Lily Ledbetter pay act.
    I also like the point Isis makes, that I had not thought of, that he’s taking credit for those binders when it was actually an outside group of women who forced them on him, if news reports (including contemporary ones from Isis) are to be believed. It’s like the opposite of ironic– hits complete irony and then doubles back on itself.

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