Lying in politics is not uncommon. But it is a sign of weakness because it means that you really don’t have a good case as to why people should vote for you over your opponent. It is also risky. You can get away with a certain amount of it by but have to be alert to not cross an invisible line and gaining a reputation of being a chronic liar because then every statement starts to be scrutinized and even those that might earlier have been shrugged off as trivial or merely hyperbolic become further evidence of lying, as has become the case with Ryan’s claims about his marathon prowess.
The Romney-Ryan ticket is skirting perilously close to that line. Paul Krugman highlighted five major distortions so far.
This clip from The Daily Show takes aim at Ryan’s lies in his convention speech.
Jon Oliver explains what is happening.
(These clips appeared on August 30, 2012. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post.)
On the surface, you would think that the Romney-Ryan ticket would not need to take this risk. The economy is still stuck in the doldrums and the fundamentals are working against the incumbent. It should be fairly plain sailing to remove president Obama. So why lie so brazenly?
I sense a feeling of desperation. While Obama has been a mediocre president, there is no doubt that he is a formidable campaigner, even though he has been lucky in having had weak opponents in all the major elections of his career from state senator to US senate to the presidency. The Republican party realizes that it has painted itself into a corner demographically by alienating minorities, women, immigrants, gays, young people, and secular people. Older white, religious, males are a shrinking group and this election might be the last one in which they can significantly influence the outcome. The Romney-Ryan ticket has to really run up the score with this shrinking demographic to compensate for their weakness everywhere else and that bar is only going to get higher in the future.
Even Lindsay Graham, the highly conservative and reactionary Republican senator from South Carolina, recognizes the problem when he said “The demographics race we’re losing badly. We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.”
So fasten your seat belts, it is going to be a bumpy ride to November.