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How to Kill a Joke, Obama Campaign Style

We’re on Day Four of “bindergate,” and what started as a kind-of-funny Twitter meme has turned into a horribly long and boring lecture by feminists and the progressive-left. When you take something that’s essentially an Internet joke and try to squeeze outraged commentary out of it, you end up with self-parodies like this one from today’s Time’s “Ideas” section:

So, to help you out, here are four reasons why bindergate isn’t just a superficial “gotcha moment” …

3. In our paperless society, binders are terribly old-fashioned. They invoke a time when the only jobs women could get in offices involved secretarial duties like putting together binders for the men who would do the real work. And given that women still occupy so few upper management and CEO positions, the thought of being relegated to an old-fashioned office supply item is such a perfect symbol of so many things that irk us.

4. And, as hundreds of online commenters (male and female) have pointed out, the word binder implies, well, binding. And we’re kind of sick of being bound up unless it’s in an E.L. James novel.

Did you get that? Binders sounds like binding, which sounds like foot-binding, and women aren’t just going to sit back and let Romney drag America back to 16th century China. Moreover, binders are old-fashioned, which reminds women of other old-fashioned things like not being allowed to vote, own property, or drive. Or something.

The “outrage” over the binders comment is so ridiculous that it’s not going to convince anyone who doesn’t already think Romney is a misogynistic jerk (and most people don’t). It’s a desperate shot by a campaign that’s losing ground with women voters and has no good argument to win them back.

Don’t get me wrong — Romney’s comment was lame and worth making fun of. But the joke died as soon as the Obama campaign picked it up and tried to turn it into a serious issue. This isn’t the first time Obama has a killed a Twitter meme, either. The “Big Bird” line was amusing too, until Democrats jumped in and started yelling about how Romney wanted to kill Sesame Street.

This whole Obama strategy of picking up laugh lines on Twitter and then centering his campaign around them is weak. If a joke stops being funny when you have to explain it, then it definitely stops being funny when you have to explain why we should all be outraged by it.


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