The Ryan Speech

Should not the multitude of words be answered? And should a man full of talk be justified? Should thy lies make men hold their peace? And when thou mockest, shall no man make thee ashamed? For thou has said, “My doctrine is pure, and I am clean in Thine eyes.”

But, oh, that God would speak and open His lips against thee…

—The Book of Job

aul Ryan claims he is a good Catholic boy. And now we know that good Catholic boys make incredibly good liars.

Lying in politics mostly comes in the art form of spinning the facts to one’s advantage. Every politician does that and it is part of the profession. But sometimes there comes along a practitioner of the political arts who goes beyond spin, beyond the normal bounds of the business.

Paul Ryan essentially began his journey toward a new national political career and conservative stardom by denying his philosophical mentor, Ayn Rand, three times before the Romney-cock crowed with the news that he wanted Ryan to be his partner in a new limited liability company, Romney-Ryan.

And once he shamelessly denied his undeniable teacher, once Ryan said, “I reject her philosophy,” it was easy for this good Catholic boy to become part of a campaign that is brazenly attempting to elect Romney-Ryan, LLC, on a platform of secrecy, subterfuge, and slander.

Wednesday night’s convention speech was Ryan’s introduction to low-information voters, those folks who don’t much follow the news or pay attention to politics until it is forced upon them by the networks.

Thus, the temptation to tell the most audacious lies possible to that audience was irresistible, because first impressions are important, especially when a campaign has enough Koch and other billionaire money to keep impressing, to keep the lies going, fact-checkers be damned.

Ryan has lied about a GM plant closing in his hometown of Janesville, saying on August 16 of this year:

I remember President Obama visiting it when he was first running, saying he’ll keep that plant open. One more broken promise.

During his convention speech last night, he lawyered up that claim and put it this way:

A lot of guys I went to high school with worked at that GM plant. Right there at that plant, candidate Obama said: “I believe that if our government is there to support you … this plant will be here for another hundred years.” That’s what he said in 2008.

Well, as it turned out, that plant didn’t last another year. It is locked up and empty to this day.

You see the serpent’s subtlety here? The sophist’s sophistication? In this version of things, Ryan is not now claiming Obama broke his promise to keep the plant open—because he never made such a promise—but he is connecting Obama with the plant’s closing in a way that makes it appear Mr. Obama was responsible for it.

The problem is the plant closed just before Christmas in 2008, a month before the newly-elected president took office.

Ryan also lied during his speech about the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, co-chaired by Democrat Erskine Bowles and Republican Alan Simpson:

He 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.

Notice the “they” in that sentence construction. “They came back with an urgent report.” But Mr. Ryan was part of that debt commission, part of that “they.” And he voted to kill the effectiveness of that “urgent report.” He did that. He voted to kill that report, which fell three votes short of being adopted and sent to Congress for an up or down vote.

And then Ryan claimed that Obama did “exactly nothing.” Hardly. As CNN pointed out:

Obama never fully embraced the Bowles-Simpson recommendations. But he incorporated some of the recommendations the co-chairs made in a plan he sent to Congress the following April, one that called for a mix of spending reductions and tax hikes.

All that and more is bad enough. But the most brazen of lies Ryan told on Wednesday, the one that should have literally brought the building down upon him if God were paying attention, was this one:

…the biggest, coldest power play of all in Obamacare came at the expense of the elderly.

Now, not only is that a lie, it is one of those lies that the liar knows is a lie, as opposed to a simple friendly spin of the facts. Because there are no facts here to spin. This is an utter lie and it has time and again been exposed as one by fact checkers. But Romney-Ryan, LLC, are not in the fact business. That’s not their trade, not their expertise.

What they are good at is taking an admittedly effective lie and simply repeating it, again and again and again, against the wind of truth, as if the wind blows right through them—no, as if there is no wind.

Obamacare came at the expense of the elderly,” he said. He actually said that. He stood there in front of millions of people, his Catholic Christian credentials on his sleeve, and told older Americans that Mr. Obama, using “the biggest, coldest power play of all,” was using them—folks on Medicare, for God’s sake— for his scheme of “government-controlled health care.”

How does such wicked hubris get born?  Where does such dark audacity come from?  From the same place this comes from:

So our opponents can consider themselves on notice. In this election, on this issue, the usual posturing on the Left isn’t going to work. Mitt Romney and I know the difference between protecting a program, and raiding it.

Never mind that Mr. Ryan’s famous budget, which Mitt Romney enthusiastically embraced, included the same smart reductions in spending—not a penny of which “came at the expense of the elderly“; and never mind that Obamacare makes Medicare more solvent and offers older folks free preventive services and closes the prescription drug donut hole; and never mind that when Romney-Ryan, LLC, get finished with Medicare, “raiding it” may be impossible because there may not be an it to raid.

I know some Democrats today are a little nervous. Ryan’s speech, replete as it was with falsehoods, was a powerful one. Lies can be quite seductive. And I know some on the left are worried that successfully combating such a blatant and well-funded disregard for the truth may be impossible.

But of course it is not impossible. There is plenty of time. We will have our turn in the spotlight. We have our message. But part of that message must include a new offensive against the devilish disdain for facts that characterizes the brand of Republican politics that Romney-Ryan, LLC, are trying to sell to that razor-thin slice of the electorate who remain open to persuasion.

Democrats must, they simply must, begin today to call both Mr. Ryan, a former altar boy, and Mr. Romney, a fiercely loyal Mormon, what they are: liars of a rare breed who simply continue to lie despite being shouted down by the facts.

A rare breed of liars with a treasure chest of riches that can buy enough 30-second ads to shout down those shouting facts and smother the fact checkers. A breed so rare that we may never—must never—see their likes again.

And if Democrats fail to push back and win against such brazenness, if the dark partnership of Romney-Ryan is successful with its strategy of deceit, if they walk into the White’s House on a red carpet of fiction and fraud, then that rare breed of liars will no longer be so rare. They will beget a legion of imitators.

And our politics, our democracy, will never be the same.

____________________________

16 Comments

  1. ansonburlingame

     /  August 30, 2012

    Yesterday’s blog from Duane challenged Ann Romney and Chris Christie. He ignored Congressman Davis and commenters ignored my reference to Davis’s remarks. As well Duane said NOTHING about the remarks from the female GOP governor of SC. Did she “lie” about the labor issues related to the Boeing fisaco?

    Today it was all about how Ryan is a flat out “liar”. But he (Duane) ignored similar remarks for Condelssa Rice. I also note the total absence of a critique of the speech from the Hispanic female governor of New Mexico.

    Does that mean Duane and his commenters AGREE with the views of a Black woman and a Hispanic woman that both strongly support the Romney/Ryan ticket? Are THEY liars as well?

    Frankly I have been mildly surprised that the GOP speakers, in general, have shown some restraint in trying to “take the hide off of Obama”. On balance the theme of the speeches has been to bolster the support for GOP plans and policies for the future. “We can do it” seems to say that with the implication that “He has had four years to do it and look where we are today”.

    NOW, I await the responses from speeches next week. Will Democratic speakers, in general, merely try to scare the pants off of voters by tearing down all in the GOP. Or instead will Dems say, loud and clear that “Our plans for the future, will make America better than it is today”. Of course one of my first questions to such a claim will be “What will be the national debt at the end of 4 more years of Dems in the White House??”.

    Duane will say that is not an important issue, probably!!!

    Of course if they take the latter course or theme I will ask “What Plan(s)”. Let’s see, they can then call for continuing the ACA as well as moving to a public option, call for another set of votes on President Obama’s last three budgets, all of which received NO SUPPORT from anyone in Congress, they can demand energy conservation and higher energy prices, more regulations on energy production, higher taxes on companies that are the source of almost all new jobs in America, and that list goes on and on.

    Then please tell us you Dem speakers that President Hollande of France has it right to call for more spending and borrowing until….., no way could America ever “be like Greece” because we are too big to fail as such, continue to NOT negotiate ANY trade agreements for the next four years, and that list goes on as well.

    I sense a subtle change in tone of the GOP campaign now. The GOP seems to believe that “negative stuff” is wearing very thin on American voters now. “This is what has gone wrong in the last four years and this is how we can and will do better”.

    So far at least the whole Dem campaign has been about “Those guys will destroy America”. I wonder if that will change now. I will have to wait and listen next week, I suppose.

    There is little doubt that the GOP campaign will receive a “bump” as a result of their convention. Will Dems try to “destroy that bump” with negaive views of the GOP or get a bigger, better and sustainable “bump” by showing Americans that “they can do better than they have in the last four years”!!

    Finally, this week and next week are merely a chance for each side to speak without rebutal, publicly and at the same time from the other side. The REAL test will come in October however when the two sides, each represented by their own chosen “champion” to go one-on-one, head to head.

    My guess is both sides will remain reasonably even in polls until those debates. Then…..?

    I also have gained some insight into how Romney will “train” for the upcoming debates by going head to head with Portman. I have no idea yet who Portman’s counterpart on the Dem side will be to “train” Obama. I HOPE it is Joe Biden, however, on the Dem side!!!

    Anson

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    • anson, just a quick comment about Duane’s focusing on Ryan – aside from the fact that it is the subject of the post – Rice and the governor aren’t the candidate for Vice-President.

      Like

  2. Bbob

     /  August 30, 2012

    Your quote from the Book of Job is quite telling. A lie is a lie.

    Like

  3. I don’t know about other voters but demagoguery does disgust me and Rep. Ryan’s did, being laced with unveiled personal animosity toward President Obama. As Duane says, pols can get away with this kind of stuff at a showcase convention (with upset Ron Paul supporters seated in the parking lot) because there is nobody present to question the lies. The healthcare lies are especially effective because the healthcare system is in fact way too expensive and that makes it very hard to defend the ACA, despite it’s improvements. What is not understood by most viewers is why it is too expensive and the huge role played in that by the GOP.

    I am looking forward to the debates where lying will be much more difficult.

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    • I’m a little worried about how Obama will handle such brazen lies out of the mouth of Romney. It’s generally considered to be self-destructive to call your opponent a liar, but I’m guessing they will figure out a way to do it without using the words.

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      • I think what we should worry about Duane is the debates. Romney is a good debater. Plus, most voters will use the debates when making their decisions. Definitely should worry about that.

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      • King Beauregard

         /  August 31, 2012

        Obama did it easily enough four years ago, and 0.7 miles from where I live:

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      • King Beauregard

         /  August 31, 2012

        … And by the way, this illustrates one of the (as yet) unsung differences between the candidates.

        Obama: has had to spend his whole life being sure to choose his words and tone very carefully.

        Romney: has never needed to master that skill, until now.

        Romney can lie, Romney can hire ad wizards to spin for him, but Obama can talk directly to people. That’ll make all kinds of difference.

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  4. Duane,

    FYI, another disaffected Republican leaves the party. But this one happens to be the head of the GOP in Oklahoma! http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=11&articleid=20120830_11_A8_CUTLIN137307

    It is really sad to see the party of Lincoln becoming so fractured. This guy from Oklahoma is only one of many current and former Republicans (like your truly) who are really dissapointed with the direction the party is taking. The new paradigm seems to be “We got ours. The rest of you can go fuck yourselves.” The American Taliban hard at work. And whatever happens hereafter, I fear it will end badly. Lincoln has got to be rolling in his grave.

    By the way, thanks for keeping me updated about the goings on at the Convention. I’m proud to say I haven’t spent one second watching any of it and have thereby avoided a bad case of cognitive dissidence and the attendant nausea. I will also boycott the Dems next week for the same reason.

    Tired of the pep talks. Would like to see coherent, feasible plans of action for our many problems from the candidates instead of all the mockery of the other party and the doomsday predictions if they don’t win.

    Herb

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  5. RDG,

    Considering that “We Built This!” is the convention‘s theme,
    spuriously based on a wildly distorted misrepresentation of President Obama’s point about private business reliance on publicly financed infrastructure for economic viability, Paul Ryan’s lie-plagued speech is consistent with a political party no longer interested in straightforward debate. The Romney campaign has already admitted that lying isn’t a concern, so long as the lies are effective in misleading voters about the administration’s real track record; they’re banking on our spin doctor-laden Fourth Estate to provide false equivalency cover. Ryan might have stretched the truth to Reed Richards proportions but Politico’s Jonathan Martin was impressed and aroused: “A solid delivery of a well-crafted address, Ryan was able to touch conservative erogenous zones on President Obama’s record while attaining an appearance of Midwestern reasonableness that centrist voters find appealing.” No prude, I’m wondering how Ryan managed to miss touching my precarious erogenous zones.

    The truth is the Republican Party has devolved from championing conservation ideology into a freakish meld of right-wing populism and Christian Dominionism theology. Add a slathering of 21st century “Know-Nothing” xenophobic angst and it’s no wonder the Koch Brothers are willing to spend unlimited sums bankrolling a tangle of pseudo-political grostesquery — especially when their dream of turning the United States into another ’50s era Guatemalan paradise is within purchase.

    But there are a few conservative voices speaking from the wilderness:

    http://www.theamericanconservative.com/millman/the-democrats-are-tom-friedmans-conservative-party/

    Although I wouldn’t call Obama a Friedman conservative, he’s certainly no left-wing Kenyan Marxist.

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    • The Millman link is excellent, John, and reflects some of RDG’s early criticisms of Obama been too conservative. Clearly Duane simply didn’t know how radical the Tear Party could get. 😆

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  6. Kabe

     /  August 30, 2012

    Al Sharpton just showed a picture of the last Vehicle coming off the line in Janesville. The sign held up by workers is dated Oct 2008. Apparently after that, a few employees stayed to finish some contract orders.

    Kabe

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