The czar in Russia styled himself the Great Father of the serfs. Obama is the Great Provider for the women in his coalition. He gives them material and emotional support. He helps them not have children, protects them from the depredations of their male employers, and scorns any suggestion that anyone ever have to fall back on self-reliance. The implicit picture his campaign paints of these women is one of economic powerlessness and extreme political credulity.

Every public-opinion poll that shows Mitt Romney closing the gap among women is a small victory for a less-slighting view of women. Not that the Romney campaign hasn’t engaged in its own embarrassingly simple-minded courtship of female voters. Its convention was devoted to it, and — reassuringly enough — got Romney nothing. He made his strides among women with a performance in the first debate that was substantive, future-oriented, and designed to speak to the entire country rather than to narrow slivers of the electorate.

The president is increasingly incapable of the latter. The former uniter is now a divider hoping enough women buy his insipid pitch. Let’s be glad that Susan B. Anthony and the gals are spared the spectacle.