‘Binders Full of Women’ Is a Thing Now (Updated)

Well that didn’t take long, did it?

We’re not going to spend too much time analyzing or fact-checking last night’s debate; you’ll already read more than enough of that business today if you so much as glance at any news feed.

We’re more interested in the meme that emerged, with stunning speed, right before 10 last night–call it Big Bird 2.0 if you must (please don’t). Let’s put it this way: Well before the end of the Hofstra rumble, someone created the “Binders Full of Women” tumblr based on this well-meaning but poorly executed Mitt Romney quip:

“I went to a number of women’s groups and said, ‘Can you help us find folks?'” said Romney. “And they brought us whole binders full of women!”

This was Romney’s attempt to boost his standing among female voters by explaining the actions he took back in the day upon realizing that, when he was Governor of Massachusetts, his cabinet didn’t include many women. It was…awkward. Right before Romney’s statement, Obama made sure to highlight the fact that the Lily Ledbetter equal pay act was the first one he signed as President, but based on the prominence of the #BindersFullofWomen meme, we feel like Romney’s attempt to downplay Obama’s female voter advantage backfired. (They tell us that this election will be decided by America’s women, but isn’t that always true?)

UPDATE: It seems that Romney may have fibbed just a little bit. A group called MassGAP got together before he even took office to address the fact that the state legislature was largely a boys’ club, and they presented the “binder” in question to new Governor Romney after the election.

We’re not quite sure what this says about the influence of public perception in politics, exactly. But we think we can draw one conclusion: Despite a quick-turn news cycle that all but encourages the public to forget about prominent stories after a few days, political gaffes may be even deadlier than they once were. Why? Because social media encourages herd mentality—when a candidate makes a mistake, everyone piles on. But that’s OK; we’d even go so far as to call it a bit of a relief given the near-total lack of humor in American politics.

We like this meme because it reminds us of our school days when G.I. Joe, Transformers and Lisa Frank held our precious math homework.

Now who can we mock mercilessly next week?

@PatrickCoffee patrick.coffee@adweek.com Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.