Having candidates go off the rails when asked a question is an expected and entertaining part of any presidential debate. But still, my heart went out to the woman who asked a simple question about restricting access to assault rifles and got a lecture on the evils of single parenting. The question was a simple one, directed at President Obama:
QUESTION: President Obama, during the Democratic National Convention in 2008, you stated you wanted to keep AK-47s out of the hands of criminals. What has your administration done or planned to do to limit the availability of assault weapons?
Obama answered in the expected way, reiterating his support for an assault weapons ban and then immediately shifting into Lecturing Dad mode, talking about how violence can really be suppressed only through community efforts. Fair enough; while mass shootings by madmen grab headlines, most gun murders in this country are the result of people who know each other shooting each other. By invoking community, Obama basically stole Romney's only real angle to paint himself as anti-crime while still reiterating his support for keeping the kinds of guns you shoot up movie theaters with totally legal.
So, after agreeing with the President about faith and community, Romney basically blamed violence on ladies giving the milk away without getting that down payment on the cow:
But let me mention another thing. And that is parents. We need moms and dads, helping to raise kids. Wherever possible the—the benefit of having two parents in the home, and that's not always possible. A lot of great single moms, single dads. But gosh to tell our kids that before they have babies, they ought to think about getting married to someone, that's a great idea.
Gosh, I bet most single mothers never thought of that! Getting married before you have kids? Who ever heard of such a thing? Thanks, Romney!
I've written in the past about how tone deaf it is to pretend that women end up as single mothers because they were just too stupid to consider getting married, so no need to rehash it here. Romney followed up this answer by invoking "Fast and Furious," a right wing conspiracy theory that only angry old white dudes who listen to too much talk radio care about, suggesting that the original question so unnerved him that his brain started spitting out random references to right wing bogeymen: Mexicans, single mothers, Eric Holder.
Still, blaming single mothers for gun violence (yes, he mentioned single dads too, but there aren’t that many of them) should have easily won the contest for the "Most Appallingly Misogynist Thing to Come out of Romney's Mouth" award. Single mothers are an easy group to pick on. Single mothers don't usually speak up when you demonize them. Why not blame them for gun violence, even though most gun violence (and pretty much all mass gun violence) is committed by men? Unlike the NRA, single moms don't have a lot of money to give, so if they refuse to donate to, say, the Romney campaign, it really can't hurt him.