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August 31st, 2012 · No Comments

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Paul Ryan’s speech in 3 words
By Sally Kohn
Published August 30, 2012

1. Dazzling

At least a quarter of Americans still don’t know who Paul Ryan is, and only
about half who know and have an opinion of him view him favorably.

So, Ryan’s primary job tonight was to introduce himself and make himself
seem likeable, and he did that well. The personal parts of the speech were
very personally delivered, especially the touching parts where Ryan talked
about his father and mother and their roles in his life. And at the end of
the speech, when Ryan cheered the crowd to its feet, he showed an energy and
enthusiasm that’s what voters want in leaders and what Republicans have been
desperately lacking in this campaign.

To anyone watching Ryan’s speech who hasn’t been paying much attention to
the ins and outs and accusations of the campaign, I suspect Ryan came across
as a smart, passionate and all-around nice guy – the sort of guy you can
imagine having a friendly chat with while watching your kids play soccer
together. And for a lot of voters, what matters isn’t what candidates have
done or what they promise to do -it’s personality. On this measure, Mitt
Romney has been catastrophically struggling and with his speech, Ryan
humanized himself and presumably by extension, the top of the ticket.

2. Deceiving

On the other hand, to anyone paying the slightest bit of attention to facts,
Ryan’s speech was an apparent attempt to set the world record for the
greatest number of blatant lies and misrepresentations slipped into a single
political speech. On this measure, while it was Romney who ran the Olympics,
Ryan earned the gold.

The good news is that the Romney-Ryan campaign has likely created dozens of
new jobs among the legions of additional fact checkers that media outlets
are rushing to hire to sift through the mountain of cow dung that flowed
from Ryan’s mouth. Said fact checkers have already condemned certain
arguments that Ryan still irresponsibly repeated.

Fact: While Ryan tried to pin the downgrade of the United States’ credit
rating on spending under President Obama, the credit rating was actually
downgraded because Republicans threatened not to raise the debt ceiling.

Fact: While Ryan blamed President Obama for the shut down of a GM plant in
Janesville, Wisconsin, the plant was actually closed under President George
W. Bush. Ryan actually asked for federal spending to save the plant, while
Romney has criticized the auto industry bailout that President Obama
ultimately enacted to prevent other plants from closing.

Fact: Though Ryan insisted that President Obama wants to give all the credit
for private sector success to government, that isn’t what the president
said. Period.

Fact: Though Paul Ryan accused President Obama of taking $716 billion out of
Medicare, the fact is that that amount was savings in Medicare reimbursement
rates (which, incidentally, save Medicare recipients out-of-pocket costs,
too) and Ryan himself embraced these savings in his budget plan.

Elections should be about competing based on your record in the past and
your vision for the future, not competing to see who can get away with the
most lies and distortions without voters noticing or bother to care. Both
parties should hold themselves to that standard. Republicans should be
ashamed that there was even one misrepresentation in Ryan’s speech but
sadly, there were many.

3. Distracting

And then there’s what Ryan didn’t talk about.

Ryan didn’t mention his extremist stance on banning all abortions with no
exception for rape or incest, a stance that is out of touch with 75% of
American voters.

Ryan didn’t mention his previous plan to hand over Social Security to Wall

Ryan didn’t mention his numerous votes to raise spending and balloon the
deficit when George W. Bush was president.

Ryan didn’t mention how his budget would eviscerate programs that help the
poor and raise taxes on 95% of Americans in order to cut taxes for
millionaires and billionaires even further and increase – yes, increase -the

These aspects of Ryan’s resume and ideology are sticky to say the least. He
would have been wise to tackle them head on and try and explain them away in
his first real introduction to voters. But instead of Ryan airing his own
dirty laundry, Democrats will get the chance.

At the end of his speech, Ryan quoted his dad, who used to say to him,
“”Son. You have a choice: You can be part of the problem, or you can be part
of the solution.”

Ryan may have helped solve some of the likeability problems facing Romney,
but ultimately by trying to deceive voters about basic facts and trying to
distract voters from his own record, Ryan’s speech caused a much larger
problem for himself and his running mate.

Sally Kohn is a Fox News contributor and writer. You can find her online at

* * *


Love the Lies Paul Ryan Tells

John Nichols
The Nation Blog: August30, 2012


It fell to Mitch McConnell, arguably the lousiest public speaker ever to
practice the political craft, to sum up everything that can or should be
said about the Republican National Convention.

Opening the “We Can Change It” themed second night of he convention with a
call to remove President Obama, the Senate minority leader declared that it
was time to put “Mitt
Ryan” in charge of the republic.

Forgive McConnell.

He just said what everyone at the convention seemed to be thinking: Wouldn’t
it be cool if Paul Ryan were topping the ticket?

Republicans did everything they could during the long campaign for the
party’s 2012 nomination to signal that they wanted Anyone But Romney. They
got themselves all excited about Michele Bachmann, and Herman Cain and Newt
Gingrich (seriously). They even voted for Rick Santorum, again and again and
again. The Ron Paul people never
gave up.

When all was said and done, Romney’s money bought him the nod. That did not
mean, however, that Republicans ever could or would come to love him.

But they do love Paul Ryan.

On the floor of the Tampa convention hall, as the moment of the congressman
from Wisconsin’s address
approached, the delegates could not help themselves.

“I’m feeling like it’s 1980,” New York Republican Party chairman Ed Cox told
me just minutes before Ryan spoke. “Just like 1980, with Reagan.”

Why? “I’ve felt it since Paul Ryan came on the ticket.”

A few feet away, the godmother of Republican social conservatism, Phyllis
Schlafly pronounced herself “very satisfied” with the ticket.

Why? “I really like Paul Ryan.”

And so it was, delegation to delegation, section to section, across the hall
where Republicans gathered for their fortieth national convention.

A month ago, Mitt Romney looked like a loser. And even if the GOP ticket is
not exactly soaring in the polls, Republican spirits have been soaring since
Ryan was added to the ticket.

Why? Because Paul Ryan isn’t just, as Ed Cox suggests, rather Reaganesque in
looks and demeanor. He’s rather Reaganesque in his approach to reality.

Ryan does not speak hard truths. He tells Republicans stories that they like
to hear. Even if they are not true.

Ryan began the
most-anticipated address of the convention with a biographical
soliloquy that referenced his factory-town roots in Janesville, Wisconsin.

“President Barack Obama came to office during an economic crisis, as he has
reminded us a time or two. Those were very tough days, and any fair measure
of his record has to take that into account. My home state voted for
President Obama. When he talked about change, many people liked the sound of
it, especially in Janesville, where we were about to lose a major factory,”
told the convention.

“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,” continued Ryan. “Well, as it turned
out, that plant didn’t last another year.”

True. Obama spoke the words that Ryan quoted. But Ryan’s clear suggestion
that Obama-or his policies-had something to do with the plant closure was
a lie.

The government that was not there to support the Janesville workers was the
administration of George W. Bush. GM
announced and implemented the
closure of the plant during Bush’s presidency.

When a newly elected President Obama rushed to save the domestic auto
industry, and perhaps to renew the prospects of shuttered plants like the
one in Janesville, the man whose campaign Ryan is now propping up wrote an
op-ed titled “Let Detroit [and,
Janesville] Go Bankrupt.”

And since we’re on the subject of government failing the workers in Paul
Ryan’s hometown, surely it is relevant to bring up the congressman’s
repeated votes for
agreements that members of Janesville ‘s United
Auto Workers Local 95 warned would undermine and ultimately shutter their

A man who would use his hometown as a prop and then try to deceive the
country about the causes of its circumstance has a certain appeal to
Republican delegates who cut their political teeth making the case for
trickle-down economics and weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Ryan actually pushed the envelope, peddling new fantasies, like the spin
that says: “Obamacare comes to more than 2,000 pages of rules, mandates,
taxes, fees, and fines that have no place in a free country.”

This will come to news as news to Britain, Canada, Germany and other
American allies that somehow keep the light of liberty shining even as they
guarantee all citizens access to quality healthcare.

Come to think of it, there are quite a few rules associated with Medicare.
Yet Ryan-who has for years championed the radical deconstruction of the
program-came off like Lyndon Johnson’s long-lost twin Wednesday night, as he
preached no compromise in the defense of a government-organized healthcare

hear Ryan tell it, “The greatest threat to Medicare is Obamacare,
and we’re going to stop it.”

That’s a reprise of the universally
discredited claim that the
Affordable Care Act robs Medicare to pay for “Obamacare.” In fact, according
to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Kaiser
Family Health Foundation, there will be no benefit cuts to Medicare as the
Affordable Care Act is implemented.

Spending for Medicare will rise. True, the rate of increase in spending will
slow. But an ABC
News Fact-Check of the claim
Ryan repeated Wednesday night notes that: “CMS says-and Kaiser agrees-that
[the rate of increased] spending will be reduced by getting rid of fraud and
ending overpayments to private insurance companies. It sends a message to
those insurance companies: Operate more efficiently. And instead of cuts,
the CMS says they will be able to fund new benefits, including free
preventive care and broader prescription coverage, including closing the
‘doughnut hole’ affecting seniors.”

That fact-check-along with many others-was published more than a month
before Ryan was tapped by Romney as his vice-presidential running mate.

Ryan had to know he was deceiving the American people when he and the Romney
team prepared his speech.

But the “deficit hawk” congressman who voted for two unfunded wars, a
budget-busting prescription drug plan that steered billions into the
accounts of Big Pharma, and the bank bailout of 2008 made his choice long
ago. He’s not going to level with the American people. He’s going to try to
make them believe things that are not true.

The biggest Ryan fantasy is the austerity
lie: the one that
says the wealthiest country in the world is going broke because some
children are educated, some sick people are cared for and most old people
are afforded a measure of retirement security. As lies go, it’s an effective
one. Most of the delegates to this year’s Republican National Convention
certainly seem to believe it.

But the reality that Paul Ryan would do anything to avoid is this. If the
Wall Street speculators, bankers and CEOs who have contributed millions to
Ryan’s Congressional campaigns would simply pay their fair share of taxes,
if American assets were not off-shored to tax havens, if American jobs were
not sacrificed in a free-trade driven race to the bottom, the country
‘s fiscal
fortunes would be entirely different.

The man who claims to offer “good-faith reforms and solutions equal to the
problems” is just another fiscal fabulist.

That’s exactly what the delegates to this year’s Republican National
Convention wanted. And that’s why Paul Ryan’s speech was such a hit.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t true.

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