As soon as Paul Ryan (pictured) was officially unveiled as Mitt Romney’s choice for vice president, conservatives swarmed in to set the narrative that the Wisconsin congressman was a serious thinker of great integrity, audacious enough to give the country the hard truths in order to save the very idea of America. How successful have they been at storytelling? In the latest national survey by the Pew Research Center and the Washington Post, conducted August 23-29, “of those offering a word, 37 percent describe Ryan in clearly positive terms, using such words as intelligent, good, energetic, honest, and smart.” On the other hand, “another 35 percent of the words used are clearly negative in tone, such as idiot, extreme, phony, and scary.”
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After watching Paul Ryan formally accept the Republican nomination for Vice President, I implore each of you to go with the more skeptical bunch polled.
I’ll refrain from calling him an “idiot,” but he doesn’t appear to be as great a thinker as he fancies himself to be. Moreover, Ryan’s views are very much extreme and scary, and based on the way he told lie after lie about President Barack Obama while failing to disclose his own congressional past, he is every bit the phony.
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That’s why it was a bit frustrating Wednesday night to watch certain political commentators stress the “effectiveness” of his speech instead of highlight the numerous fallacies that made up its content. Fortunately, a sea of writers and various news outlets have countered chatter about tone and instead shifted to conversations as to whether Ryan told the truth during his RNC speech.
The Associated Press claimed Paul Ryan took “factual shortcuts” throughout his speech. A Slate writer opted to use the word “fibs” to describe Ryan’s inaccurate claims about the president. CNN used “Ryan misleads” to describe our next potential VP’s summation of the bipartisan debt commission and the overall failure for the Simpson-Bowles plan to be implemented. A New Republic headline about Ryan’s big debut is “The Most Dishonest Convention Speech … Ever?” Even FOX News writer and contributor Sally Kohn described the speech as “dazzling, deceiving, and distracting.”
The Washington Post‘s Jonathan Bernstein has been the frankest, though:
But really, the proper response to a speech like this isn’t to carefully analyze the logic, or to find instances of hypocrisy; it’s to call the speaker out for telling flat-out lies to the American people. Paul Ryan has had what I’ve long thought was an undeserved good reputation among many in the press and in Washington. It shouldn’t survive tonight’s speech.
Yes, let’s not pussyfoot about this: Paul Ryan is a liar. A politician lying isn’t especially shocking, but some are far more brazen about it than others.
Here are the biggest lies Ryan told last night:
- Paul Ryan lied when he said, “[Obama has] more debt than any other president before him, and more than all the troubled governments of Europe combined.” That’s a lie once told by Mitt Romney that was debunked nearly a year ago.
- Paul Ryan lied when he accused Obama of breaking a promise not to shut down a GM plant that closed down in his hometown, Janesville, Wisconsin. Obama never made such a claim and that plant shut down in 2008 before he took office.
- Paul Ryan lied when he said President Obama’s health care law funnels money away from Medicare “at the expense of the elderly.” Actually, it’s been found that the law “substantially improves” the system’s finances. Not to mention “Ryan himself has embraced the same savings.”
- One of Ryan’s biggest lies of the night was him declaring, “The truest measure of any society is how it treats those who cannot defend or care for themselves.” Has he read his own budget? The traveling nuns spreading the word about Paul Ryan’s desire to substantially slash funds for social programs designed to aid the poor have.
- The other grand lie of the night was when Ryan said, “He [President Obama] created a bipartisan debt commission. They came back with an urgent report. He thanked them, sent them on their way, and then did exactly nothing.”
Though the president didn’t embrace every point of the plan, he did support key measures of it. Not that it mattered given that Ryan, who sat on the budget committee, led the effort to vote the plan down. Like Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky), Ryan was more interested in making it harder for President Obama to get re-elected than making it easier for the United States to get its finances in order. Zoom, look at the “budget hawk” go.
So as fate would have it, the man who declared on stage, “We will not duck the tough issues; we will lead,” ducked the issues by denying his own role in the country’s stagnant economic recovery and shying away from detailing his controversial views on taxes, abortion, Medicare, economic inequality, and every other issue that would have easily had voters look beyond those “piercing blue eyes” his supporters love to openly swoon over and see him for exactly who he is.
Paul Ryan is as much a face for honesty as Chris Christie embodies the Weight Watchers diet plan. He is nowhere near as politically brave as purported to be. Hopefully, the more he talks the more his lies are exposed and voters judge he and Mitt Romney accordingly.
Watch Paul Ryan’s Pinocchio speech here:
Michael Arceneaux is a Houston-bred, Howard-educated writer and blogger. You can read more of his work on his site, The Cynical Ones. Follow him on Twitter: @youngsinick
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