During the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida on August 27–30, Paul Ryan delivered a gripping speech after accepting his nomination as the Republican vice-presidential candidate. It was articulate, it was moving and it may have swung a few voters to Mitt Romney’s side. However, it was also almost completely constructed out of blatant lies.
One of the strangest and most shocking trends of this American election has been the tendency for politicians to assume that the media is simply a mouthpiece meant to amplify everything and anything they say, without first questioning and examining the content. This assumption has repeatedly proven to be laughably incorrect, with politicians — Ryan in particular — being called out for their flagrant fabrications.
After Ryan’s speech, media outlets quickly realized that much of what he said was false. Fact checkers for the media, which are tasked with analyzing public statements to check the validity of what people are saying, caught all of the many inaccuracies Ryan attempted to pass off as fact. Even Fox News, a media outlet that is notoriously right wing, called Ryan out for his blatant lying.
Although a common stereotype is the ‘lying politician,’ it is not a good idea for high-profile politicians to tell falsehoods during their public speeches. At best it makes them seem ignorant of the truth, at worst it makes them seem manipulative and deceptive. Having a politician that isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed is one thing, but having one who actively seeks to deceive people is another.
When a politician lies publicly, it is almost as if they expect no one will notice. Did Ryan just assume that news channels and websites would simply repeat what he said to the masses, without first investigating the truthfulness of his claims? Or worse, did he assume that potential voters would be too stupid not to research what he said, or look into any of the news coverage of his speech? He is hoping to sway voters to his side by lying to the public, but in doing so shows that he potentially harbours very little respect for their intelligence.
Ryan’s speech at the RNC was a bad move, but at least, to a degree, an understandable one. The Republican party is currently drowning in the sea of misogyny, homophobia and racism they have belligerently been wading in for the past few years, and they desperately needed something to focus on that could distract people from their inherent unpleasantness. By warping the truth about President Barack Obama’s decisions and policies, Ryan’s speech came off as a last ditch effort to turn people towards his socially antiquated party. So, while despicable, all of the lying did somewhat make sense. What didn’t, however, was the way Ryan lied about his personal life.
From claiming that he ran a marathon in under three hours to asserting that he has climbed over 40 of Colorado’s highest mountains, Ryan has been emphatically lying about his own physical ability. The mountain climbing claim has been found to be dubious at best, and his supposed marathon time was completely untrue. He was most likely trying to appeal to young voters by making himself seem somewhat cool, but he must have forgotten that most young people use something called the Internet, and reports of his lies were front page news on many websites.
At this point, Paul Ryan is like the kid in your grade four class who claimed that his uncle worked at Nintendo. He is resorting to lying about his own worth in a last-ditch attempt to convince people to like him, while desperately hoping that people are too stupid to realize the truth.