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The Remarkable Achievement of Paul Ryan

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After Zell Miller’s speech at the RNC in 2004, Matt said that “I don’t believe I’ve ever heard a more disgusting speech delivered in the English language.” After Paul Ryan’s speech tonight, I think that judgment must be considered anachronistic. Admittedly, the Zombie-Eyed Granny Starver can’t touch Zell in the demagoguery department, but in terms of the sheer weight and variety of dishonesty, Ryan’s speech was a transcendent accomplishment. The bit about how “He created a bipartisan debt commission. They came back with an urgent report. He thanked them, sent them on their way, and then did exactly nothing”* might have been the most jaw-droppingly brazen. But the whole thing, which can be summarized as “keep your government hands off my Medicare, Barack Obama was a terrible president from 2001-2008, and strengthen the welfare state by ending it,” was a truly remarkable piece of work. And the prose his speechwriters crafted was a good match for the level of honesty.

*Granted, helping to torpedo the Catfood Commission for the wrong reasons will be the only positive thing Paul Ryan will accomplish in his lifetime of living off the American taxpayer. Although we shouldn’t forget those hardscrabble summer jobs he took in high school!

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  • jeer9

    He and Romney make the Obama administration seem like a model of veracity and competence.

  • Ben Hosen

    Thanks, for a horrible moment I wondered if I was the only one. I couldn’t even finish watching it, wondered if I had lost my mind. 180 degrees from reality more or less. An extreme ideologue who lies as smoothly as a sociopath. What could possibly go wrong with that?

    “Effective.” That’s the buzz word you’ll hear about the speech. Reifenstahl produced this kind of stuff better, IMHO.

    • Malaclypse

      Reifenstahl produced this kind of stuff better, IMHO.

      She had to. She was doing it backward, in high heels.

  • That ThinkProgress piece doesn’t even mention the GM plant in Ryan’s hometown whose closing he blamed on Obama. That’d be the plant that closed in 2008.

    When you lose PolitiFact . . .

    What’s the last speech that did more damage to the public discourse? Reagan’s Iran-Contra speech?

    • Brutusettu

      Obama broke his promise to fight at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and he broke his promise to return those video tapes.

      Only when you begin to realize that Obama is a Shapeshifting Kenyan Double Secret Muslim Anti-Colonialist Time Traveler can you begin to understand his actions.

      • Bill Murray

        But the Republicans have reports that Obama fought at Isandlwana, but they don’t want to go with because the Zulus won big

      • Eric

        Sally Kohn is a liberal contributor to Fox News. Strange that they still keep a few of those around, especially a real liberal like Sally, but I’d be surprised if much of Fox News mirrors Sally’s take.

        • I did think the tone of the article was oddly even handed.

          • Spuddie

            It was Fox News,

            IT WAS FAIR AND BALANCED GODDAMMIT!!

  • losgatosca

    Thank you for watching it so that I could nap off an excellent pasta dinner. And the Giants closed out a win as well. An excellent night not ruined by any obligation to fulfill my civic duty by listening to the maliciousness of the 1 per cent personified.

    Tell me though, did he wear a Cayman Island flag lapel pin?

    • Snarki, child of Loki

      Romney did, but it was pinned to his Secret Underwear.

  • angry bitter drunk

    I guess if you lie nonstop, the public at large isn’t as likely to notice if you’re called out on a random whopper or two. Your message still gets through. And, the voter caging.

    Somewhere in hell, Lee Atwater is impressed…

    • andy synonymous

      Lee Atwater repented and apologized to his victims before he died. Maybe somewhere in purgatory . . .

      • angry bitter drunk

        Found this on wiki:

        Ed Rollins, however, told in the documentary Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story,[8] that “[Atwater] was telling this story about how a Living Bible was what was giving him faith and I said to Mary (Matalin), ‘I really, sincerely hope that he found peace.’ She said, ‘Ed, when we were cleaning up his things afterwards, the Bible was still wrapped in the cellophane and had never been taken out of the package,’ which just told you everything there was. He was spinning right to the end.”

        • rea

          Well, but the Bible is a heck of a lot more comforting if you don’t actually read it.

          • Cody

            A lot like the Constitution…

  • Lev

    What does it say about our society that two men whose primary qualification for the presidency is that they are friendly with a lot of very wealthy people, who circumvent such quaint notions as policies and basic transparency in the service of demagogic racialized attacks?

    • Steve LaBonne

      It says we’re completely fucked. But you knew that.

    • BigHank53

      It says that shorting the manufacturers of canned goods and ammunition is a bad bet, that’s what.

    • NonyNony

      It says that society really hasn’t changed much since the Romans?

      • liberal

        This.

        All this shit is aggravating, but Ecclesiastes put it best: “There is nothing new under the sun.”

  • wengler

    A lot of substantial substance coming out of his mouth.

  • the good news is that lying is all they’ve got left.

    the bad news is that lying does work.

    • losgatosca

      Yes, the epidemic of stupidity shows little sign of abatement. It waxes and wanes without a predictable pattern so who knows? One election the folks are voting for avowed torturers and war criminals and the next Pennsyltucky is voting for the “[email protected]@@@r” as one of the more enlightened voters told the canvasser in 2008.

      It’s a real crap shoot. I often wonder if I could get a grant to correlate voting patterns with the variances in the natural levels of lead in the national water supply. But then I just grab a football and take the boys outside and enjoy the California weather.

  • Mark f

    Another lie: nobody’s iPod ends with Zeppelin, unless he got bored and stopped ripping CDs at L.

    • Furious Jorge

      Or perhaps it’s filed under “Zeppelin, Led”

      • mark f

        My iPod files artists so that “Bob Dylan” is under B.

        Strangely, my iPhone carried my contacts over from my old phone so that “Gino’s, Papa” is under G.

        Dear Apple, please switch this around.

        • Holden Pattern

          Um, just add “Papa Gino’s” to the “company” field and change the contact to a “company” contact). Then remove the name from the name fields. Right now you have “Papa” as the first name, and “Gino’s” as the last name, which is why it’s doing that.

          • mark f

            Yes, I know. I could also edit all of iTunes to list artists by their last names. Pulling it over was the iPhone’s default, was the point of the aside. It recognized that the contact was two words and, even though it had been tagged as a business in the old one, listed it under the “last name.” It also did this for actual people, which is more understandable but not what I wanted. I don’t want to have to remember that Joey Joe Joe Junior’s last name is name is Shabadoo.

        • Malaclypse

          Go to Settings. Hit Mail, Contacts, Calendar. Scroll down to Contacts. Change both Sort Order and Display Order from Last, First to First, Last.

          • mark f

            Thanks — that’s easier than retyping them all.

    • Captain Splendid

      Or, like me, he’s such a hardcore fan, that once all the Led Zep’s been loaded on, you’ve run out of space?

      Crap, did I just defend him?

    • ploeg

      Maybe he meant the Texas cover band ZZ Zeppelin.

      • Bill Murray

        everybody’s crazy about a sharp dressed stairway to heaven

    • sharculese

      That’s my favorite part of his speech.

      “I have an impressively diverse taste in music.”

      *name-checks two relatively contemporaneous, similar sounding bands*

      • Scott Lemieux

        “I like both kinds of music — country and western!”

    • rea

      There’s a nominee who’s sure
      All that glitters is gold
      And he’s buying a stairway to Washington . . .

  • Davis X. Machina

    This speech, from people who want to run the country, given in the country where ‘marketing’ first took its place besides philosophy and history and physics and economics as a university-level discipline, we’re surprised?

    Glengarry/Glenross 2012.

  • Rob

    Ignoring the whole time doesn’t work that way problem, Mr. Free Market uber alles is complaining that Obama didn’t step in and have the government pick winners and losers.

  • John

    Thanks for the write-up and thanks to the Charles Pierce link.

    Though now I feel sick.

  • Pingback: Centrist Media Hacks are Less Honest About Politicians Than American Psycho Characters « Look At This Fucking Centrist()

  • Malaclypse

    Krugman name-checking Doctor Who means my life is now complete.

  • Cody

    The ThinkProgress Live Blog is depressing. They have a link to a fact proving that Ryan is lying for like literally every other sentence he spoke.

    Very good work.

    • Medrawt

      I hope it won’t be possible to sum up this period in American political history by noting that in the 2000 election, media members falsely accused Al Gore of being an inveterate liar/fibber on inconsequential matters, and the public ingested that message, whereas in 2012 media members began making a habit of truthfully accusing Romney/Ryan of lying on matters of substance and the public ignored them.

      • Spuddie

        C’mon nobody believed Al Gore was a liar back in 2000. They thought he was an android incapable of lying or any form of emotion.

  • Asshole

    Even Fox News is reporting it was full of lies.

    http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/08/30/paul-ryans-speech-in-three-words/
    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.

  • DrDick

    Conservatives continue to create their own reality, I see. The only question is how many rubes they can drag along with them into that Bizarro World.

    • alfalfa

      Bit amazed that the team of White Lies/Granny Dies might convince people that they will “protect” Medicare. Maybe I over estimated seniors.

  • mark f

    If Jonah Goldberg’s Twitter feed is any indication, the wingnut defense of Ryan’s speech will be “Nuh-uh, liberals are the real liars!”

    I’ve listened to 2.5 speeches, and the two full speeches I’ve listened to (Arthur Davis’s and Paul Ryan’s) mentioned Greek columns. WTF? It was a talk radio bingo square meaningless to 99% of the television audience when Sarah Palin mentioned it four years ago. Why are they still talking about it?

    BTW, MSNBC had Scott Walker on just after Ryan concluded. First thing he said? “No teleprompter!” Then he struggled to come up with a non-stupid answer on the Janesville GM plant.

    • rea

      “No teleprompter!”

      Permit me to doubt that he recited the thing from memory, or extemporaneously.

      • rea

        And note this:

        Joined by his wife, Janna, and their three children, who played around at the podium, Ryan tested the microphones and teleprompter in a largely empty convention hall. The Wisconsin congressman asked where the delegations from his home state and neighboring Michigan would sit and said he’d point to them during his evening address.

        Asked by reporters about his speech, Ryan said, “You’ll hear tonight.”

      • Ignorant Texan

        Well, he read it either from a monitor at his feet, or a monitor/plexi-screen mounted in the lectern or from a hanging screen/s in the hall, or a combination of the 3; so, technically, yes, he did not read it from a TelePrompTer[TM] mounted plexi-screen, which is what they are referring to when they trash Obama. Although I’d bet they are using either TelePromTer’s or AutoCue’s software for scrolling the speeches.

        • rea

          Numerous shots showing teleprompters here.

          They will lie about anything.

          • rea

            Also, look at the picture on yesterday’s post about Christie. You can see one of the two teleprompters poking into the picture on the left side about 2/3 down.

            • mark f

              But perhaps those were not brand-name TelePrompTer[TM] machines! It actually wouldn’t surprise me if they did use copycat machines just for this purpose.

              • Cody

                If there is one thing Republicans know about, it’s getting a good deal on merchandise made in China.

          • Ignorant Texan

            Well I’ll be damned. That picture from the stage with the Ryan family shows the classic plexi-monitors for speech scrolling. These fuckers are either that big of lying scumbags, or that fucking stupid. Or,is it in Nixonland, teleprompter is just another another code word/dog whistle for black?

            Thanks for the link, rea.

            • rea

              Not only that, but compare the location of the teleprompters shown in that picture to the first picture showing Ryan speaking. The shot of Ryan speaking is carefully framed so that the teleprompter does not appear–but notice the direction in which Ryan is looking . . .

              • Ignorant Texan

                Oh, the wooden covers for the bases of the plexi-monitors told me that those are (semi)”permanent”(for the duration of the show, anyway) placements. If they were “temporary” placements, they would have used plants to obscure the bases and the hardware you can see in the photo I referenced.

                FWIW, most scrolling speech equipment, aka, and at times incorrectly called, TelePromTers[TM}, like jibs for cameras,are owned by the person operating them. They are hired by the A/V equipment/personnel supplier, who are hired by the event planner. So, unless Obama has his own scrolling speech owner/operator traveling with him(while possible, it’s unlikely)who uses a TelePrompTer[TM} set-up, he uses what’s provided for him. Which is usually kludged together from a variety of sources.

            • Heron

              The whole teleprompter thing is just a way to call Obama stupid without coming out and saying “Obama is stupid”. I would argue that this is both the typical school-yard trashing of the other team’s guy, and also a “subtle” racist barb since those two behaviors aren’t mutually exclusive.

              What’s really chuckle-worthy about it is how many Cons -even those holding elected office- have such a hard time keeping it unstated. One reason the prominence of race in the Con reaction to Obama is so obvious is how his mere existence has shaken their message discipline. During his tenure we have seen an endless string of bigotries-made-obvious, not just regarding race, but in practically every other field of culture war contention.

              • Cody

                Yes, I don’t get it. George W. Bush used teleprompters, and he still couldn’t talk right.

                Obama is an amazing public speaker. He connects well and speaks very clearly. It’s not obvious he has a teleprompter, though I’m not surprised he does.

                I wouldn’t ridicule Republicans for using teleprompters either, except they seem to have made it a message that they’re bad. Then they proceed to use them per their standard hypocrisy.

          • MAJeff

            They will lie about anything.

            It’s not just what they do, it’s who they are.

  • Joshua

    That Erin Burnett and Wolf Blitzer both said that he lied a bunch of times but it was still a great speech is convincing enough evidence to have CNN taken off the airwaves.

    • Cody

      Or is it a condemnation of our political discourse? “Well, every other sentence was a lie, but that’s politics for you!”

      After all, Both Sides Do It (TM)

      • Hogan

        Two politicians were talking. One said, “You’re lying.” The other said, “I know, but hear me out.”

      • Leeds man

        Both Sides Do It (TM)

        Raise High the Roof Mote, Carpenters

  • Jonas

    To give Ryan some credit as compared to Zell Miller, at least he didn’t challenge Chris Matthews to a duel after the speech. As far as I know.

  • 4jkb4ia

    “Did exactly nothing” was hardly the most dishonest thing in the speech when you compare it to things like the Janesville plant. Ryan prevented Bowles-Simpson from coming to a vote automatically. But Obama had other chances to have a plan, most notably with the debt ceiling. Obama could also have modified Bowles-Simpson to his ideal plan and let Congress talk it over, or given Congress some broad parameters the way he did with the health care bill. He had enough of a Democratic Congress at the time of Bowles-Simpson that Medicare and SS would be essentially preserved.

    • 4jkb4ia

      BTW, I am showing my husband the Cohn piece when he gets home.

    • Cody

      He did? I’m rather skeptical.

      Also yes, I guess Obama could have told the Congress “Make the budget this, I command you!” and it would’ve magically happen.

      After all, we saw how easy it was for him to get a right-wing health care plan passed. All those “moderate” Democrats were totally on board from the beginning.

      • 4jkb4ia

        By “essentially preserved” I mean not privatized in all but name as in the Ryan plan. I don’t mean that Joe Lieberman, Ben Nelson, and others would not wring their hands and settle on serious cuts or raising the Medicare age to 67 or some such thing.

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