The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Bullsh*tter

Paul Ryan’s confabulation about his prowess as a marathoner has created as much puzzlement as schadenfreude among Blue commentators. Did he actually mis-remember his time (in what appears to have been his only marathon) or did he disastrously misjudge the level of scrutiny he is now under and try to get away with an outrageous fib?

I’ve never met Ryan, don’t know anyone who knows him, and have no qualifications as a psychologist or psychiatrist. (And if I had, I’d think it grossly unethical to make long-distance diagnoses and publish them.) But it seems to me that the most natural explanation here – and the one most relevant to Ryan’s (un)fitness to be placed a heartbeat from the Presidency – is that Ryan ran a two-fifty-something marathon exactly the same way he plans to balance the budget:  in his dreams.

After a decade in the wingnut cocoon, drawing adulation in the Murdoch press and at AEI and Heritage for inventing collections of numbers that don’t add up, perhaps Ryan has simply become untethered from reality. Anything that makes an audience cheer, or makes a billionaire write another check to a friendly SuperPac, or makes Hugh Hewitt say “Holy Smokes!” counts as “true” for Ryan, regardless of its relationship to facts on the ground.

Every political campaign consists of some truth, some falsehood, and some bullsh*t. What’s different about Romney-Ryan is that it’s bullsh*t all the way down. Frankfurt is right to say that b.s. is a greater enemy of the truth than is a lie. And by the same token, a b.s. artist in politics is a much graver threat to the Republic than a mere liar.

A liar merely denies the truth he knows to be true; a chronic bullsh*tter has forgotten that the truth even exists. So Ryan can, in all subjective sincerity, talk about “the responsibility of the strong to protect the weak” while proposing a budget plan that cuts taxes for billionaires and health care for poor sick children.

Have I mentioned recently that the stakes in this election are extraordinarily high? What are you – yes, you – going to do today to make it less likely that the Romney-Ryan Clown Show gets to the White House?

 

Comments

    • FanferMan says

      The exchange on the clip (“Would you like some candy?”) is I think one of the ugliest I have ever seen. Someone else can articulate what’s awful about it, but if I had been that constituent, I think I would have sputtered, “I look down toward his feet—but that’s a fable.”

      • Russell L. Carter says

        Your title resonates very deeply with this actual endurance cyclist. Endurance sports are about integrity. It takes integrity to hold to the often inconvenient schedule and endure all the necessary suffering. And I know from personal experience that it can be very lonely indeed when the pins (legs) are running on bullshit.

  1. Jakob says

    It is not it grossly unethical to make long-distance diagnoses and publish it dependent on the audience. Lets call it an evaluation not a diagnosis for starters. Governments including our own CIA has staff Psychiatrists evaluating world leaders and personalities all the time. To be certain corporations going into high level negotiations do the same. Somewhere I am sure there is a U.S. government evaluation of Ryan that was done when he was put on the short list.

  2. says

    And by the same token, a b.s. artist in politics is a much graver threat to the Republic than a mere liar.

    After reading Taiibi’s epic takedown of Mitt’s business acumen and personal ethics…
    I’ve got to agree with you Mark.

    I’m tempted to paste in Taiibi’s chilling last paragraph here.
    That is, what really lies ‘neath all the R-Money Wall Street bullsh*t.
    But I don’t want to spoil his sick and essential conclusion for anyone…
    Suffice it to say: It damn nearly freezes one’s balls off.

    The real question, if we survive and win in Nov. (and my prediction is we will) is:
    The Kochs will run Ryan again and again and again…
    With their unlimited cash, how long can we keep this Randian wolf at bay?

  3. Ed Whitney says

    Pundits like Gloria Borger as recently as 2011 were still saying that Al Gore had claimed to have invented the Internet.

    Symmetry test: will the same talking heads put an indelible “prevaricator” label on Paul Ryan, or will he get a pass from the lib’rul media?

  4. Bobby Goren says

    This brings me back to 2000 – then again everything does. Hell no! I haven’t moved on. Back then right wing funded groups like the misnamed “Accuracy in Media” proclaimed Al Gore a liar and exaggerator when everything I read put Gore’s comments squarely in the realm of acceptable political comment. Bush was a liar but the Rove principle was to hit your enemy at the point of your own weakness so then he/she looks like a “I know you are but what am I” loser.

    In the piece below, AIM lied about getting one of its figures, supposedly contradicting Gore’s claim about the Bush tax cuts, from the NYT (“The New York Times says…”) when the Times article clearly stated the figures came from the Bush Campaign.

    Maybe it’s irrelevant to today’s situation – but can’t forget or forgive the media’s piss poor fact checking, reluctance to call out liars and false equivalences between candidates. I will forget 2000 and “move on” when we stop reliving it.

    http://www.aim.org/media-monitor/al-gores-lies-and-exaggerations/
    http://www.nytimes.com/2000/08/26/us/the-2000-campaign-the-tax-plan-bush-tax-plan-the-debate-takes-shape.html?ref=bushtaxcuts&pagewanted=print

  5. Josh G. says

    But it seems to me that the most natural explanation here – and the one most relevant to Ryan’s (un)fitness to be placed a heartbeat from the Presidency – is that Ryan ran a two-fifty-something marathon exactly the same way he plans to balance the budget: in his dreams.

    The same way that Ronald Reagan witnessed the liberation of Buchenwald:

    The notion that it makes no difference whether Reagan experienced something in person or from film is even more outrageous than any of the fictionalized characters in this book. But the difference clearly did not matter to Reagan. His world was famously populated with welfare “queens” who did not exist, with trees that caused pollution. If Bill Clinton’s reputation is for telling lies, Reagan’s was just for saying things that were not true. That he was able to sell this fine distinction to the public surely qualifies him as a political genius. Morris agrees: Reagan wasn’t lying, because he believed what he said, even after being told that it was false.

  6. Bostonian in Brooklyn says

    It now makes much more sense that Ryan accused the generals of lying when they said that they were ok with Obama’s defense cuts; he accused the bishops of not being representative when they accused his budget of violating Catholic social policy; he accused S&P of not telling the truth why they lowered our grade. He believes that everyone else lies so why not him too.

  7. Steven B says

    Mr. Kleinman, myself and my 13 year old daughter will be out canvassing, knocking on doors, talking to folks face to face, and giving proportionate amounts through Act Blue to key downticket races. As ye sow, so shall ye reap….