Paul Ryan’s GOP Convention Speech: 4 Things We Learned

By YeOldeScribe ~ August 30th, 2012 @ 5:56 pm

Yesterday while our writer was at his local game store, he was pleasantly surprised to find that the Republican National Convention was playing on the small TV usually reserved for Packer games or other life changing events. The conventions are always fun to watch, and it’s interesting to listen to the myriad of speeches made from old bastions and newcomers alike to the political parties. At the RNC convention, we were very impressed with Condoleezza Rice’s speech, and we sincerely hope she was serious when she said “A little girl grows up in Jim Crow Birmingham… she can be President of the United States.” But night two of the RNC wasn’t supposed to be Condi’s moment to shine – the spotlight was instead on newly-crowned Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan.

Ryan’s speech was textbook for him, and you can watch it here if you missed it yesterday. As most political speeches do, it had its fair share of positives and negatives. We’re going to do the best job we can covering those, but more than that we’d like to look at things we can take away from the speech. Specifically, we’re looking at what Ryan’s speech means for the campaign moving forward.

1) Paul Ryan is an eloquent speaker and very likable.

Ever since Reagan, Republicans haven’t found a leader that could really make you want to vote for the party just by sheer character alone. Both the Bush’s failed at that, as did Newt Gingrich and John McCain. Romney is no different. He comes off as a guy who is too rich for his own good, and his sneer when he has to speak to the middle class can be seen from miles away. Very few people vote Republican because they believe their candidate is personable.

Ryan changes that a little bit. He’s very young for politics, and more attractive than most that get into this business. But more than his looks, he just has a vibe about him that is very not-Romney like. Maybe it’s the shirts; we’re really not sure. But Ryan definitely doesn’t have an ‘I’m better than you’ aura, and he comes off as someone who genuinely cares and wants to help the common man out.

To top it off, both his speech writing and speech delivery were very good. We were more impressed with the delivery than the actual words, but both were some of the best reviewed of the evening. Ryan got especially high marks when tying in his personal stories and emphasizing his family. Most importantly, he did his job – he got the Republican base on their feet, hooting and hollering for him. The Republicans are definitely reved up for Romney’s speech, and that’s all Ryan was supposed to do. Dare we say Mission Accomplished?

2) Paul Ryan is a liar.

We know that’s really harsh. And we wouldn’t be saying it if we couldn’t back it up (so enjoy the link-fest here). But Ryan and many other Republicans have taken to just outright lying whenever it pleases them. Let’s just take a closer look at statements made by Ryan in his speech last night.

– Ryan claims that Obama is the reason why S&P lowered the US credit rating from AAA to AA. But according to S&P, it was mostly Congress’ cat-fight, not Obama, that led to the downgrade:

“We lowered our long-term rating on the U.S. because we believe that the prolonged controversy over raising the statutory debt ceiling and the related fiscal policy debate indicate that further near-term progress containing the growth in public spending, especially on entitlements, or on reaching an agreement on raising revenues is less likely than we previously assumed and will remain a contentious and fitful process… Compared with previous projections, our revised base case scenario now assumes that the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, due to expire by the end of 2012, remain in place. We have changed our assumption on this because the majority of Republicans in Congress continue to resist any measure that would raise revenues, a position we believe Congress reinforced by passing the act.”

– Ryan claims that Obama is responsible for closing down a GM plant in Ryan’s hometown (Janesville, WI). Fun Fact: The plant closed before Obama took office, and despite his efforts to restart the plant and get it back to full production, it was forced to shut down for good. A big reason why the plant had to close? Obama couldn’t get the support he needed from Republicans to secure a bridge loan in time to keep the plant open. But don’t worry, folks – Mitt Romney had the perfect solution: Let Detroit Go Bankrupt. This is seriously what the GOP Presidential Nominee proposed doing. Romney was opposed to giving any funds to GM and other auto makers, and pointed the finger instead at the middle class:

“…bankruptcy may be the only path to the fundamental restructuring the industry needs. It would permit the companies to shed excess labor, pension and real estate costs.”

Good to know Mitt was thinking that the problem with Detroit were those damned factory workers and their meager benefits. Also good to know that Obama didn’t buy into that logic and instead got the auto industry the loan it needed to stay afloat. Since Republicans are so quick to tell you how terrible the economy is right now, imagine how much worse it would have been had we allowed one of our primary manufacturing industries to simply vanish, as Mitt himself suggested.

– Ryan claims that the stimulus was “a case of political patronage, corporate welfare, and cronyism at its worst. You, the American people of this country, were cut out of the deal.” There’s two things wrong wrong with that one. First, more than a quarter of that stimulus went directly to tax relief for workers. Second, Ryan asked for funds (twice) from the same stimulus that he’s now lambasting Obama for (1:15 in the video, but you should really watch the whole thing).

– Ryan claims that President Obama “stole” over $716 billion from Medicare, raiding it to pay for that stimulus. In the video linked above, the commentator calls this claim “bogus”. Another points out that “benefits to seniors actually increase under [the PPACA],” and a third commentator adds that Ryan’s plan calls for the same $716 billion in savings that Obama’s does. But pundits often lie, so let’s take a look at what PolitiFact has to say. They generously rate Ryan’s claim as Mostly False, saying:

“So, yes, Obama’s law did find $716 billion in spending reductions. They were mainly aimed at insurance companies and hospitals, not beneficiaries. The law made significant reductions to Medicare Advantage, a subset of Medicare plans run by private insurers. Medicare Advantage was started under President George W. Bush, and the idea was that competition among the private insurers would reduce costs. But the plans have actually cost the government more than traditional Medicare. The health care law scales back the payments to private insurers.”

This isn’t a new issue, either. The Romney campaign has been propagating this lie so much that media outlets are calling BS in their headlines. Our favorite quote from this article:

“I didn’t expect this, but the epic dishonesty of Romney’s campaign is finally prompting something of a debate among media types about whether what we’re seeing here is unprecedented — and how to appropriately respond to it. This debate is focused partly on whether there’s a racial dimension to this attack. But it’s also about what the media should do when one campaign has decided that there is literally no set of boundaries or standards it needs to follow when it comes to the veracity of the core assertions at the heart of its entire argument.”

– Ryan claims that “[Obama] created a new bipartisan debt commission. They came back with an urgent report. He thanked them, sent them on their way, and then did exactly nothing. Republicans stepped up with good faith reforms and solutions equal to the problems. How did the president respond? By doing nothing – nothing except to dodge and demagogue the issue.” This is probably our favorite lie of the evening. Obama was never able to take action on the debt committee’s report because Ryan and other Republicans that sat on the committee shit-canned the recommendation because it called for cuts in the military and modest tax hikes on the super-wealthy. Ryan is the one who is dodging and demagouging the issue. And how is a proposal that’s shot down by your own party a ‘good-faith reform’? Does that mean we can call Obama’s annual budget a good faith reform too?

– Ryan is still trying to call Obama socialist, saying, “After four years of government trying to divide up the wealth, we will get America creating wealth again.” He also continues to promulgate the falsehood that Obama hates small businesses because of his “You didn’t build that” (mis)quote. Ryan says, “In a bad economy, it sure doesn’t help to hear from their president that government gets the credit. What they deserve to hear is the truth – ”Yes, you did build that!'” The RNC picked up on the supposed gaff too, making the conference motto “We Built It”. And virtually every speaker at the RNC made reference to it. Nevermind the independent media panel that said “this line of attack is dishonest,”and that Fox News manufactured this story out of thin air. Nevermind that PolitiFact said that, “When you read the full text of [Obama’s] remarks, that quote distorts the meaning of Obama’s claim,” and that they rated the logic Ryan is using here as false. If you need any proof that this attack is completely bogus, check out this video from Jon Stewart. Our favorite quote:

“The campaigns all like to have fun with gaffes. Making a big deal out of a misstatement is a great way to win a news cycle… But this ain’t a gaffe. And Mitt Romney’s not having a little bit of fun with it. This deliberate misstating and misrepresentation of Obama’s position is now the centerpiece of Romney’s entire campaign… Mr. Romney, hanging your attack on a person’s slight grammatical misstep is what people do in an argument when they’re completely [expletive] and they know they have no argument.”

To top it all off, even Fox News is calling BS on Ryan’s speech. According to them:

“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.”

All of this from someone who earlier in his speech accused Obama of using “fear and division” because “it’s all [he] has left”. But all this is not news. In fact, it’s what Republicans are relying on. But more than that, they’re actually proud of their outright lies and truth twisting. Here’s what’s happening in the story on the 2nd link: in 2008, a foolish (yet honest) McCain adviser said “if we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.” Obama repeated it ad nauseum on the campaign trail, and the rest is history. Now the Romney campaign has created an ad which features the president repeating this quote – but with none of the surrounding context, so it looks like Obama is talking about himself. When cornered about the blatant dishonesty in the ad, senior Romney adviser Stuart Stevens joked “Did he say this? Yes. Did we say he said it in a certain context? No.” So who’s really the one using fear and division, Misters Ryan and Romney?

3) Paul Ryan will not defend his own record.

We’ve already told you about many of the things Paul Ryan said during yesterday’s speech. We’ve clearly outlined and documented how they’re not true. But for someone who said that Obama was all talk and no action, Paul Ryan is equally as bad if not worse. Most of the statements he did make have now been debunked, and all that’s left once you push aside the lies is old rhetoric and bad policy ideas. Ryan spent most of his time unsuccessfully attacking Obama’s record because his own is even worse. The Fox News article we talked out earlier points out that:

– Ryan advocates bans on abortions in all circumstances (including rape and incest), putting him out of touch with 75% of all voters

– Ryan’s Social Security reform relies heavily on essentially privatizing it, thus putting it in the hands of Wall Street

– Ryan (the supposed deficit hawk) voted in favor of the vast majority of Bush-era expenditures, which experts say are a leading contributor to our current economic decline

– Most importantly, Ryan doesn’t talk about his budget much at all. This is odd, because his budget is the reason why Ryan was selected for the ticket. Romney never seemed to be interested in it, saying that there were “differences” between Ryan’s budget and his own ideas (without elaborating, of course). As we’ve said previously, while we applaud Ryan for taking the imitative and putting some serious work into attempting to fix the problem, by implementing this solution, we’d only be making things worse. The Ryan budget is a horrible idea (unless you’re the 1%).

4) Paul Ryan’s speech shows who the ticket will be pandering to.

This sums up pretty much everything we’ve been saying, and provides some analysis towards the future. After Ryan’s speech, it’s pretty safe to say that the Romney/Ryan ticket will not be gunning for the independent vote. You could probably say that ever since Ryan was put on the ticket, Romney was not going for the independents. So where does that leave him? Romney is essentially trying to use Ryan to energize the base so much that every living man and women who bleeds red (figuratively) goes out and votes for him. But more than that, Ryan’s nomination to the ticket and subsequent speech shows that the Republican party is depending on Tea Party support to win this election. Apparently, they didn’t learn their lesson after two years ago that relying on fringe movements is never a winning strategy. And they certainly haven’t learned their lesson from 2008.

According to David Corn, “Throughout his political career, Romney has demonstrated a high degree of flexibility. But he has yet to employ those skills as the final stage of this presidential slog begins. And with Rep. Paul Ryan’s fiery speech at the GOP convention on Wednesday night, it was clear that Romney did not pick Ryan to appeal to the undecideds in the middle. The speech was an indication that the Romney crew has gone rogue—or completely tea party… The once-moderate former governor of Massachusetts has adopted the fresh-faced policy minister of the tea party as his political son, and on Wednesday night allowed him to frame the story of the 2012 campaign in stark ideological terms. With Romney’s big night approaching, this politician so often accused of flip-floppery and situational shifting was not moving to the middle but embracing a fundamental extremism. The full tea-partyization of Mitt Romney was nearing completion.”

See, John McCain was Mitt Romney four years ago. McCain was one of the good guys – he fought his own party on some major issues, and got something passed that changed government as we know it (campaign finance reform). McCain had to face off against Obama. McCain knew that Obama would get a majority of the swing votes from independents who would be persuaded to vote for the change he was promising. So McCain sold his soul to the party base, elected a Vice President who looked good but didn’t have all the facts straight, and lost in a landslide. Mitt Romney was one of the good guys when he was governor. He fought his party on some major issues, and got something passed that changed government as we know it (Individual Mandates for Health Care). Now Romney has to face off against Obama. Romney knows that Obama will get a majority of the swing votes from independents who are happy to vote for him because he delivered on the change he promised. So Romney is selling his soul to the party base. He’s elected a Vice President who looks good but doesn’t have all the facts straight. And the majority of Americans believe he doesn’t have a chance in the next election. For once, the general populous has it right.

We’re sure that much will be said of Romney’s speech tonight, and rightly so. We’ve spent a lot of time analyzing Ryan’s words, and yet he is only half the ticket – and the lower half at that. But it’s still disconcerting that someone a heartbeat away from the presidency would resort to lies, untruths, deception, and fundamentalist pandering and expect to win an election because of it. We at PoliticalProgressives can only hope that America proves Misters Ryan and Romney wrong on Nov. 6th.

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