No really, he’s a liar. And it may not matter.
After a month of “vacation” from this blog, there is so much I want to write about (Paralympics, space exploration, American craft breweries), but last night, all of that took a back seat to Paul Ryan’s speech at the Republican National Convention in Tampa.
I’m used to politicians exaggerating or stretching the truth, but last night’s exhibition was, in the words of Fox News contributor Sally Kohn, “an apparent attempt to set the world record for the greatest number of blatant lies and misrepresentations slipped into a single political speech” – yeah, that’s what a Fox News Contributor had to say.
Here’s a quick list of the lies:
- Ryan blamed Obama for the closing down of a GM plant in Janesville when in fact the plant was shut down in 2008 during the Bush Presidency.
- Ryan criticized Obama for making cuts to Medicare when in fact Ryan’s own budget proposal called for the same cuts.
- Ryan blamed Obama for the Federal Government’s credit rating downgrade when in fact it was the Republican refusal to raise the debt ceiling (i.e. game of chicken) that led to the downgrading.
- Ryan called Obama the greatest contributor to the Federal deficit, when in fact the Bush tax cuts and the Bush wars contributed much more to the deficit.
- Ryan proclaimed the need to protect the weakest members of society when in fact the vast majority of his proposed budget cuts would eliminate programs benefiting low income people.
This is not a matter of interpretation. The things he says are just plain wrong. And I’m not alone in pointing it out. James Fallows (one of my favorite writers by the way) at The Atlantic has compiled a list of people pointing out these lies within hours of the speech.
Why would Ryan repeatedly lie when it’s so easy to fact-check his claims? As James explains in his article, the most depressing thing about this whole mess is that people don’t seem to mind that he’s lying. This is to say that politics in America is no longer about truth. People have picked their sides and they’re not going to let facts get in the way. Years ago, Stephen Colbert parodied this phenomenon by popularizing truthiness and “thinking with your gut”. It’s no longer a parody. Colbert is not a comedian, but a prophet.
For the first time in a long while, the press has taken a stand and called out a string of bullshit, but no one seems to care. The Romney campaign recently said “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers”. And if the public doesn’t care for the truth, why should they?