The fact checkers, I mean.
So the zombie-eyed granny starver** had his moment to shine and he did not disappoint the GOP faithful last night in Tampa.
I guess we find out now whether outright lying and deliberate misleading is a viable path to the White House, or if the fourth estate is just another failed experiment in our democracy. Steve Kornacki, writing at Salon, posed this question:
This presents a dilemma for journalists trying to report on and analyze Ryan’s speech. Should the blatantly dishonest nature of his remarks be the focus of any commentary? Or, since he was really just engaging in an exaggerated form of something that politicians have been doing for ages, should we just shrug our shoulders, leave most of the details to the fact-checkers, and move on to how well he delivered it and what impact it might have on swing voters?
I guess what Kornacki is asking is this: is there some point on the spectrum of untruths which, when passed, would ever disqualify a candidate for office? Since everyone agrees that all politicians, to some degree, exaggerate or mislead with partial truths, isn’t a bold-faced lie just another point on that well-traveled slippery slope?
I tried to prepare myself for this, you may remember. I’ve been talking about the Romney campaign’s strategy for dishonesty for months now. But my earlier assumption was that the strategy rested on media fatigue with covering the lies, and that by the time people started paying attention (now), the talking heads would no longer consider the constant lying as news-worthy, and therefore the general public wouldn’t hear about it much.
Instead, what I think is happening goes back to the reason we started this site in the first place: the false equivalency and false balance of news organizations seeking to present a balanced and over-simplified view of the campaign. Paul Ryan tells blatant lies about taking money from Medicare to pay for Obamacare? Well, Obama created a composite character in his autobiography, so it’s all the same! Ryan attacks the president for turning his back on the Simpson-Bowles plan, even though he, himself, voted against it? Too complicated!
The “fact checkers” are running scared on this. How can they accurately score Ryan’s speech and still maintain their treasured reputations for neutrality? (Hint: they can’t!) The AP has come up with a brilliant strategy: they have developed a new term for “lie.”
AP Fact check: Ryan takes factual shortcuts in speech
Laying out the first plans for his party’s presidential ticket, GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan took some factual shortcuts Wednesday night when he attacked President Barack Obama’s policies on Medicare, the economic stimulus and the budget deficit.
If Romney/Ryan win this election, and they very well might, the long-term lesson for our politics is that the truth doesn’t matter, lying doesn’t matter as long as it is effective, and policy proposals don’t matter because nobody understands the details anyway. Factual shortcuts are the wave of the future, man.
* h/t e e cummings, and the many bloggers who have quoted this in reference to Mr. Ryan.
** h/t Charles Pierce.