Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ryan's Whoppers

Politicians often stretch the truth. They come up with spin that is less than genuine, or they leave out important details that might affect the way constituents feel about their position on a particular issue. But rarely do politicians tell outright lies, or at least this was true in the past. The reason I bring this up is because the Very Serious Paul Ryan seems to have awakened the fact-checkers:
NBC “Meet The Press” host David Gregory said after Rep. Paul Ryan’s convention speech Wednesday night that the GOP’s vice presidential nominee suffers from “ideological amnesia.”

“There is a kind of ideological amnesia here on the part of Paul Ryan,” Gregory said on MSNBC. “He represents this new generation, a new strain of the Republican Party which at its core is about fiscal rectitude and responsibility, and yet he did not stand up to the Bush administration on two wars, on major areas of entitlements, as Tom [Brokaw] suggested, on the prescription drug benefit.”
That's David Gregory, not some wild-eyed left-wing activist who is saying this. The Washington Post's James Downie makes a similar observation:
Yesterday, at an ABC News panel, Mitt Romney pollster Neil Newhouse said, “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.” Wednesday’s speech from Paul Ryan certainly took that disdain for truth to heart, as his address was filled with falsehoods from start to finish.
So, political reporters are calling Ryan out for these outright falsehoods, as one might expect them to do. But the automotive press is also a bit PO'ed at Ryan. Here's what car enthusiast website Jalopnik had to say:
Usually, when politicians mislead people about the auto industry, the audience vaguely nods and forgets about it. That didn't happen last night. Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan attempted to blame President Obama for failing to support the General Motors plant in his hometown, Janesville, WI. Except that the plant, for all intents and purposes, closed in December 2008, before Obama was inaugurated, and GM made the plant closing announcement in June 2008, before Obama was officially his party's nominee. And Ryan got handed his hat for it by every political fact checker in the country (including Fox News).

In his address to the Republican National Convention, Ryan zeroed in on an Obama speech from February, 2008, when Obama was still neck and neck with Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. At the time, Obama said that if the government could support the auto industry, the plant "will be here for another 100 years." Ryan said, "Well, as it turned out, that plant didn't last another year. It is locked up and empty to this day." Yes, it is, and it's legitimate to ask, why didn't Ryan himself do more to save it? Back in 2003, Missouri Congressman Richard Gephardt and one-time presidential candidate managed to convince Ford to spare a plant suburban St. Louis. You have to figure Michigan's John Dingell went to bat numerous times to keep car plants open. And by the way, it was Senate Republicans who kept GM and Chrysler from getting a Congressional bailout in 2008, which is why both the Bush and Obama administrations stepped up with aid to the auto industry. Couldn't Ryan have used his dairyland charm to change some Senate votes?

The most puzzling thing about Ryan's effort to blame Obama for Janesville is that it's so easy to check. That plant was on the bubble for YEARS before it closed, basically because it made SUVs in a market that had turned away from SUVs. It's quite possible Ryan couldn't have convinced GM to close it no matter what he'd done. But rewriting history, when so many people were around to document what really happened, is probably not a good idea. As Ryan now knows.
What I find so interesting about all of this is not that Ryan isn't telling the truth, it's that the media actually seems to be concerned that Ryan isn't telling the truth. Let's hope they keep this up.

1 comment:

  1. Why worry about the thruth now. We as voters haven't worried about it for YEARS. Their empty promises are just as bad as lying.