I didn't watch or listen to Paul Ryan's speech last night - I generally try to avoid self-inflicted pain. Fortunately, some people get paid to watch these exercises in absurdity, and the consensus on Ryan's speech (including on op-ed from Fox News, the GOP's media outlet) is that he somehow managed to tell more lies per minute of airtime than any other convention speech ever. Now that is impressive.
Many of these lies are so blatantly false - it makes me wonder to what extent Ryan believes these statements. Is there deep self-deception occurring, is he so blinded by ideology that he is unaware of the lies, or his he simply a dishonest and ethically-deficient person?
These are questions we should be asking about all politicians, left, right, or center.
Sally Kohn of Fox News, who in that extreme right-wing world might be considered left-leaning, wrote:
[T]o anyone paying the slightest bit of attention to facts, Ryan’s speech was an apparent attempt to set the world record for the greatest number of blatant lies and misrepresentations slipped into a single political speech. On this measure, while it was Romney who ran the Olympics, Ryan earned the gold.Sometimes we learn a lot about someone from the things they DON'T talk about - maybe these are lies by omission, or simply positions that are indefensible on a national stage. Again, from Sally Kohn:
The good news is that the Romney-Ryan campaign has likely created dozens of new jobs among the legions of additional fact checkers that media outlets are rushing to hire to sift through the mountain of cow dung that flowed from Ryan’s mouth. Said fact checkers have already condemned certain arguments that Ryan still irresponsibly repeated.
Fact: While Ryan tried to pin the downgrade of the United States’ credit rating on spending under President Obama, the credit rating was actually downgraded because Republicans threatened not to raise the debt ceiling.
Fact: While Ryan blamed President Obama for the shut down of a GM plant in Janesville, Wisconsin, the plant was actually closed under President George W. Bush. Ryan actually asked for federal spending to save the plant, while Romney has criticized the auto industry bailout that President Obama ultimately enacted to prevent other plants from closing.
Fact: Though Ryan insisted that President Obama wants to give all the credit for private sector success to government, that isn’t what the president said. Period.
Fact: Though Paul Ryan accused President Obama of taking $716 billion out of Medicare, the fact is that that amount was savings in Medicare reimbursement rates (which, incidentally, save Medicare recipients out-of-pocket costs, too) and Ryan himself embraced these savings in his budget plan.
And then there’s what Ryan didn’t talk about.Ryan didn’t mention his extremist stance on banning all abortions with no exception for rape or incest, a stance that is out of touch with 75% of American voters.Ryan didn’t mention his previous plan to hand over Social Security to Wall Street.Ryan didn’t mention his numerous votes to raise spending and balloon the deficit when George W. Bush was president.Ryan didn’t mention how his budget would eviscerate programs that help the poor and raise taxes on 95% of Americans in order to cut taxes for millionaires and billionaires even further and increase — yes, increase —the deficit.
Here are some links to other coverage of Ryan's speech, courtesy of The New Civil Rights Movement.
- David Weigel at Slate writes that Ryan’s speech was “one of the more impressive strings of whoppers we’ve seen at this level.”
- Joan Walsh at Salon, in “Paul Ryan’s brazen lies,” says Ryan’s “speech was stunning for its dishonesty,” and adds that Ryan, “blamed Obama for a deficit mostly created by programs he himself voted for – from two wars, tax cuts, new Medicare benefits and TARP.”
- Jonathan Cohn at The New Republic: “The Most Dishonest Convention Speech … Ever?”
- Ruth Conniff at The Progressive: “Paul Ryan’s Brilliant, Scary, Lying Speech”
- Ryan Grim at The Huffington Post: “Paul Ryan Address: Convention Speech Built On Demonstrably Misleading Assertions”