Big Bird, Malarkey, and Binders Full Of Women: The Top Ten Memes From The Presidential Debates

by Erika W. Smith

It’s that time of election year again: the time for presidential debates. The debates may have you screaming angrily at your TV screen, but they can also be hilarious, especially if you keep Twitter and Tumblr open while you watch. From Biden’s “Malarkey!” to Romney’s binders full of women, here are the top 10 memes from the past three presidential and vice presidential debates:


10. Badass Moderator Martha Raddatz

Martha Raddatz moderated the vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan, and she completely killed it. Raddatz kept complete control over the debate, challenging both candidates’ answers, cutting them off when they went over time, and asking hard questions, including one on abortion. Along with plenty of “Raddatz for President” tweets, Raddatz’s performance led to an SNL sketch and a segment on the Daily Show in which Jon Stewart called her moderating skills “the lost language of journalism.”




9. “To Biden it.”

After Biden pummeled Ryan in the vice presidential debate, various definitions of “to Biden it” began popping up online. Our definition: “You totally Bidened that guy! You ripped him a new one while smiling!”




8. Mitt Romney’s sexism: Single parents cause gun violence and women have to get home to make dinner?? 

When asked about his stance on gun control, Romney blamed single parents (WTF), implying that children born out of wedlock are more likely to resort to violence. Likewise, when asked about equal pay for women, Romney started talking about how women have to get home by 5 p.m. so they can make dinner for their kids. Cue tons of mocking tweets and memes.




7.  “Gang bangers”

Obama sounded like a trying-to-be-cool dad when he talked about “gang bangers” while answering a question on undocumented immigrants. He said, “If we’re going to go after folk who are here illegally, we should do it smartly and go after folks who are criminals, gang bangers, people who are hurting the community, not after students, not after folk who are here because they’re trying to figure out how to feed their families.”



6. “Facts matter”

In a highly gif-able moment, Biden stressed that “facts matter” while talking about Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon. The quote soon re-appeared on




5. Silent Jim Lehrer

When Jim Lehrer moderated the first debate, he struggled to control the conversation and was hesitant to interrupt Obama and Romney. In fact, he hardly spoke at all. While the debate was still going on, a Twitter account appeared: Silent Jim Lehrer, who would occasionally tweet gems like “….um…I….” and “…uh, excuse me…”




4. Laughing Joe Biden

 During the debates, Joe Biden would not stop laughing at Paul Ryan’s answers, spurring a now-inactive Laughing Joe Biden Twitter account that would tweet out LOLs in real time.




3. Fired Big Bird

When Mitt Romney said told Jim Lehrer he would fire Big Bird, a Big Bird Twitter account appeared almost immediately, tweeting “WTF Mitt Romney… :(” and following that up with gems like “Yo Mitt Romney, Sesame Street is brought to you today by the letters F & U!” The account is still active and currently has over 33,000 followers.




2. Malarkey!

During the vice presidential debate, Biden found plenty of folksy ways to say, “You’re lying.” Top of the list was “Malarkey,” which he used three times, including to explain another Biden-ism, “A bunch of stuff.”



1. Binders full of women

Last night, when moderator Candy Crowley asked Romney about pay equity for women, Romney responded with an anecdote about his time as governor of Massachusetts: upon finding that all the applicants to his Cabinet were men, he “brought us whole binders full of women” for the position. (The Boston Phoenix later wrote that the story isn’t even true).  Almost instantly, we saw a Twitter hashtag #bindersfullofwomen, a Binders Full of Women Facebook page, @RomneyBinders and @Romneys_Binder Twitter parody accounts, and a hilarious tumblr,  


Missed last night’s debate? There’s still one more left – and though we can’t know the outcome, I’m sure it will bring even more lulz!  

Images from,,,,,,,,,,,


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