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Paul Ryan in profile
Paul Ryan became Mitt Romney's running mate with a reputation, in the Beltway press at least, as the Republican who engaged seriously and truthfully with policy, an earnest wonk who'd lay out his case with statistics, not talking points. But in the wake of the convention speech that gave every fact-checker in the nation a serious workout and his marathon lie that suggested that Ryan lies not just for political gain but for the hell of it, that reputation has taken a beating. The press is waking up to the fact that Ryan is not just a politician but a 21st century Republican politician, with all that implies about his truthfulness. But Jonathan Chait points out that Paul Ryan has always been a liar; what's new is that the media is noticing it:
Ryan seems to have fallen victim to circumstances he didn’t quite foresee. The Romney campaign has spent the last several weeks practically daring the national press corps to call out its lies. Well beyond the usual exaggerations of a national campaign, Romney has built its entire message around two accusations — “you didn’t build that” and “just send them a check” — that are obviously false. A day before Ryan’s speech, a Romney adviser told reporters, “We're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.” The media that had spent the last two and a half years nuzzling gently in Ryan’s lap had been prodded with sharp sticks and reacted in the predictable fashion, though probably not predictable to Ryan himself.

The thing about Ryan is that he has always resided in a counter-factual universe. He is a product of the hermetically sealed right-wing subculture. Many of the facts taken for granted by mainstream economists have never penetrated his brain. Ryan burst onto the national scene with a dense, fact-laden attack on the financing of Obama’s health-care bill that was essentially a series of hallucinations, pseudo-facts cooked up and recirculated by conservative apparatchiks who didn’t know what they were talking about or didn’t care. His big-think speeches reflect the influence of fact-free conservatives and collapse under scrutiny.

We're talking about the traditional media, here. Of course the full scope of Ryan's falsehoods and fraudulence as a policy expert and deficit hawk will never be fully reflected in the Associated Press, the Washington Post, or the New York Times. Definitely not in PolitiFact. But at least they're getting past the view that if Paul Ryan says something, it should be taken seriously and at face value. For that, we owe Runner's World a debt of gratitude.

Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 08:22 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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