The pundits loudly credit Romney for his combative style, his aggressive, in-your-face energy and his hyper-attack mode. They applaud these debate tactics as if this was not a presidential debate, but a bloody prizefight. In fact, the September issue of The Atlantic magazine ran a cover story, "Slugfest: Obama vs. Romney." On the cover, Romney and Obama jab in prizefighter gear: Slugging it out, sweat flying, Romney lands a knockout punch to President Obama's jaw. Is this what our uncivil union has come to — a prizefight?
This prizefight metaphor was also much in display in the pre-debate coverage. As I switched between MSNBC, CNN and FOX, the debate was framed as two candidates stepping into the Big Ring for a political brawl. And when it was over, the pundits, mostly white males, proclaimed Romney's "big win." But there is always a her-story behind the his-story. And this was evident in the feminine response.
Romney really said nothing new, and did not speak to the public but simply focused his energy and anger on Obama. I just can't see how this is going to help him regain the ground he has lost over the last two months. We are not in a period of war, the economy is not crashing, Europe is not imploding fast enough—why all of this aggression?
Romney's fervent goal of seizing the presidency was evident in his body language, his snobbish smirks, his false sympathy for those of us "crushed" in the middle class — those 47 percent he so contemptuously dismissed when he was among his rich cronies. Romney's combative dogfight stance may impress men or those who have held power so long they assume it belongs to them. But women, or anyone who has been in an underclass or faced racism, read this behavior as arrogant and overly aggressive — the language and habit of dominance.
We've had bosses, fathers, boyfriends and co-workers like Romney who invade our space, try to dominate every discussion and see every encounter as a chance to "win," rather than dialogue. It's the old patriarchal model that women have endured for way too long.
Also, Obama did not give him one serious misstep to exploit (the entire purpose of his approach). In fact, the papers for the past 24 hours have been filled with three stories: Romney won, Romney lied, Romney hates Big Bird. As for Obama, he was "lackluster."