Mitt Romney is a renowned flip-flopper. In picking Paul Ryan as his running mate, Romney went for diversity on the ticket: a hypocrite. For his big prime-time debut at the GOP convention on Wednesday, Ryan illustrated his ability to pay lip service to principles that he has repeated violated and to condemn Obama for inability to act that Ryan was in large part responsible for. Needless to say, the crowd at the convention loved it.
Ryan basically made two claims in his speech: Obama has failed to lead and Republicans have a plan. The problem is, most of the speech wasn’t true. By the reckoning of one conspicuously even-handed journalist, Ezra Klein at the Washington Post, Ryan said one thing that was true in his entire speech. In the talk-about-a-low-bar category, Klein notes that even Sarah Palin did better than that in her 2008 convention speech.
Among the charges Ryan made against Obama (and the reality that undercuts them):
- Obama has no plan to cut the deficit. In fact, Obama has a detailed plan to cut the deficit, which Republicans happen to hate. Moreover, when Obama tried to cut an epic deal with House Speaker John Boehner to lower the deficit,Ryan’s objections were a major reason the deal never materialized.
- Obama is a threat to Medicare, because he plans cuts to the program. The cuts are for insurance plans and providers, and they are cuts that Ryan himself had counted on in his budget proposal. Moreover, Ryan’s plan for Medicare would essentially end the program as it currently exists.
- Obama ruined the country’s credit rating. In fact, it was the refusal of House Republicans to budge on the debt ceiling that drove the markets to downgrade the country’s credit rating.
- Obama failed to save a GM plant in Wisconsin that he promised to save. In fact, the plant closed before Obama took office.
We could go on, but why bother. Ryan did say one thing that was true: the Obama administration hasn’t done a great job dealing with the worst housing crisis in American history. Too bad Romney’s alternative would be to let the market hit bottom without government intervention.
The fact is (to use a phrase that feels out of place when talking about today’s GOP) the Romney-Ryan ticket has made a conscious decision to throw truth to the wind and simply make things up. It’s possible that the campaign staff thinks that the MSM will resort to the usual false equivalency–Democrats are untruthful too. And they are. But there’s a big difference between spinning facts to make yourself look good and saying things demonstrably untrue.
To its credit, the media seem to be catching up. Reviews of Ryan’s speech focus on the string of whoppers he presented. (Even the conservative media called him out.) This is another bad sign for the GOP’s presidential hopes. Convention week is the party before the hard work. It’s also the time when most Americans start to focus on the election and get a better understanding of the candidates. If the conventional wisdom that comes out of the Tampa is that the Republicans are untruthful, Romney and Ryan have made their job that much harder. Plus, they won’t have much time to overcome those bad early impressions. And that’s the truth.