In 2008, Republicans nominated a candidate for vice president who seemingly could not open her mouth without lying. She lied so persistently that after the campaign, Steve Schmidt, a top strategist for the McCain-Palin campaign said, “There were numerous instances that she said things that were — that were not accurate that ultimately, the campaign had to deal with, and that opened the door to criticism that she was being untruthful and inaccurate. And I think that is something that continues to this day.”
In 2012, it appears Republicans have done it again. In his speech accepting his nomination for the vice presidency, bombarded his audience with so many lies that even Fox News could not find a way to pretend to ignore them.
Ryan did not start lying in Tampa, of course. Immediately after Mitt Romney announced that he had chosen Ryan as his running mate, it was revealed that while Ryan voted against the stimulus package and then joined the chorus of Republicans in Congress who railed against it as a sign of jackbooted government authoritarianism, he also requested at least $25 million in stimulus funds for his district — and, oh yeah, voted for all three of George Bush’s stimulus packages.
This is hypocrisy that tops Sarah Palin’s claims in her stump speeches in 2008 that, as governor of Alaska, she’d “championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress,” including specifically her state’s infamous “bridge to nowhere” that had been earmarked by a Republican senator from Alaska, when in fact she’d been a strong proponent of the bridge during her campaign for governor just two years earlier.
So now we learn that in a radio interview with GOP sycophant Hugh Hewitt earlier this month, Ryan grossly exaggerated an athletic feat in his youth:
HUGH HEWITT: Hey, in high school, what did you do in high school? Were you a speech and debate guy? Were you a bandie? What were you?
PAUL RYAN: No, I was student government and athletics, honor society, you know, that kind of thing. I was kind of a combination. I was class president my junior year, I was the school board rep my senior year. I lettered in varsity, you know, my first year in high school, mostly soccer and track. I was a distance runner and a soccer player. So kind of well-rounded. I can’t, I can play a cowbell. That’s about it for instruments.
HH: Are you still running?
PR: Yeah, I hurt a disc in my back, so I don’t run marathons anymore. I just run ten miles or yes.
HH: But you did run marathons at some point?
PR: Yeah, but I can’t do it anymore, because my back is just not that great.
HH: I’ve just gotta ask, what’s your personal best?
PR: Under three, high twos. I had a two hour and fifty-something.
HH: Holy smokes…
PR: I was fast when I was younger, yeah.
Holy smokes is right. The editors at Runner’s World, a nonpartisan media outlet, did some checking, found the actual results from the marathon Ryan ran in 1990 and proved that Ryan had misremembered the time it took him to complete the marathon — by more than an hour:
It turns out Paul Ryan has not run a marathon in less than three hours—or even less than four hours.
A spokesman confirmed late Friday that the Republican vice presidential candidate has run one marathon. That was the 1990 Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota, where Ryan, then 20, is listed as having finished in 4 hours, 1 minute, and 25 seconds…
In a statement issued to Runner’s World by a spokesman Friday night, Ryan said of his marathon experience:
“The race was more than 20 years ago, but my brother Tobin—who ran Boston last year—reminds me that he is the owner of the fastest marathon in the family and has never himself ran a sub-three. If I were to do any rounding, it would certainly be to four hours, not three. He gave me a good ribbing over this at dinner tonight.”
So, yes, this is minor, a fisherman’s tale. But we saw that Paul Ryan is more than willing to go television and lie repeatedly to a national audience. The question now becomes whether voters will come to see him as a reflexive, pathological liar like Palin, or if they will dismiss off his prevarications as “they all do it” political rhetoric.
What is certain is the fact that Paul Ryan’s credibility is on the line, and even the small lies like this one do not help his case.