Paul Ryan Bets on the Ignorance of America

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Ryan tells another whopper.
Ryan tells another whopper. Photo: Win McNamee/2012 Getty Images

Paul Ryan has a reputation as a nerdy budget wonk, but tonight in his RNC speech, he transformed into an attack dog. Running the gamut on the many, varied transgressions of President Obama — including the stimulus, the jobs crisis, ObamaCare, the debt, Medicare, and, obviously, "You didn't built that" — Ryan had the crowd laughing, booing, and frequently showering him with piercingly loud standing ovations thanks to a slew of pitch-perfect applause lines. While this is just a hunch, we expect that his focus on Obama's inability to adequately revive the economy probably hit home with a lot of moderate voters. In short, it was, without a doubt, the best, most effective speech of the convention.

It was also appallingly disingenuous and shamelessly hypocritical. To name but a few examples that the official and unofficial fact-checkers will be picking over tonight:

  • Ryan said that Obama promised "in 2008" that the stimulus would save a GM plant in Janesville, Wisconsin, but "that plant didn’t last another year." In reality, Obama made those remarks in February 2008 while running for president, the plant's closing was announced in October 2008, and it closed in December 2008 — before Obama even took office, and months before the stimulus went into effect.
  • Ryan thundered that Obama "created a bipartisan debt commission" which "came back with an urgent report," but Obama simply "thanked them, sent them on their way, and then did exactly nothing." Ryan did not mention that he was on the debt commission, also known as Simpson-Bowles, and he voted against the plan it came up with.
  • Ryan accused President Obama of plundering hundreds of millions of dollars from Medicare. The only part of Obamacare that Ryan kept in his budget plan? Those Medicare cuts.

But here's the thing: Most of the millions of people who watched the speech on television tonight do not read fact-checks or obsessively consume news fifteen hours a day, and will never know how much Ryan's case against Obama relied on lies and deception. Ryan's pants are on fire, but all America saw was a barn-burner.