Squaring the Culture

"...and I will make justice the plumb line, and righteousness the level;
then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and the waters will overflow the secret place."
Isaiah 28:17

08/30/2012 (1:01 pm)

On the Pain of Being an Infant in a Political World

Paul Ryan, nominee for Vice President on the Republican ticket, gave his speech to the Republican National Convention last night… and just look at the headlines he got from the leftist editorialists:

Paul Ryan’s Brazen Lies (Salon.com)

Most Dishonest Convention Speech… Ever? (The New Republic)

Top Five Fibs in Paul Ryan’s Convention Speech (Talking Points Memo)

Great Moments in CNN Euphemisms (Josh Marshall, TPM)
(This one simply cites Wolf Blitzer and Erin Burnett for saying “The fact checkers will have things to dispute” instead of calling Ryan a liar.)

Ryan’s Misleading Speech (Washington Post Opinion page)

When anyone listens to a political speech by one’s opponents, it is common to react at those points where the speech touches on areas of disagreement. People I know have pointed finger-guns at the TV screen and feigned shooting, or pretended to remove a shoe and hurl it at the TV. I get up and pace, and go someplace to vent. We get agitated at those points where we know the rebuttal to the point being made. We want to interrupt the speech and insert our rebuttal. It’s natural.

It’s so common, in fact, that you would think that everybody would have gotten a wry perspective on it by now, particularly in a contentious field like politics. You’d think we’d be able to laugh at ourselves, and then later to discount our own agita so we could assess what was said more calmly.

The best advice, of course, is Mom’s: “It’s his turn to talk. Later it will be your turn, and you’ll be able to say whatever you like.” That’s the adult response. Most of us have internalized it by now, though it does take some effort.

However, apparently the leftist editorialists I mentioned at the top of the column are not willing to make the effort. Their reaction to ordinary, political disagreement is visceral, verbal, and rage-filled, and it involves accusations of lying. Apparently their mothers never told them to wait patiently for their turn, or perhaps they simply did not listen.

So now we have to play Mom for them.

No, guys, he’s not lying; he’s giving his side of the argument. Sit down. It’ll be your turn next, and you’ll get to say what you think is right.

The nature of the objections is, as usual, a little bit silly. The biggie that appears at the top of most of the articles I’ve read is where they object to Ryan’s mention of a GM plant in his hometown of Janesville, WI, where Obama gave a campaign speech in 2008 saying “‘I believe that if our government is there to support you … this plant will be here for another hundred years.” Ryan noted,

Well, as it turned out, that plant didn’t last another year. It is locked up and empty to this day. And that’s how it is in so many towns today, where the recovery that was promised is nowhere in sight.

This is what the leftists call a “lie.” Their objection is that the plant closed before Obama took office, which is true.

But Ryan need not dispute that. He did not intimate or imply that President Obama caused the plant to close, nor did he imply that Obama caused the economic difficulty, nor did he say it closed because of any particular failure of the Obama administration. There are actually several places in the speech where he acknowledges that Obama did not cause the economic crisis.

What he said was that the plant remains closed. The indictment, here as throughout the speech, is that despite positive rhetoric, the Obama administration has failed to do anything that will produce a recovery and put people back to work. That is precisely what he said: “…the recovery that was promised is nowhere in sight.”

In fact, a story in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel in September of 2011, long after Obama took office, confirms that GM is keeping the Janesville plant on stand-by in case the market picks up, but that they cannot open it yet because the economy is recovering more slowly than expected. Just like Ryan said.

So, no, guys, he did not lie. He did not mislead. He did not imply anything even questionable. He stated a fact and then used it to make his argument about the President’s inactivity when faced with a crisis not of his making.

Deal with it.

But more importantly, please grow up. You’re going to hear political speeches where people will make arguments that you believe you can refute. Fine. Write a blog article and refute it. But don’t go around calling honest men liars just because you’re not adult enough to live with the angst of not having the only opinion in the world. Jeez, Louise.

Jennifer Rubin, a conservative who blogs at the Washington Post, set most of their complaints straight in her post this morning, entitled “Ryan Freaks Out Obamaland.” It’s a satisfying read, especially if you’ve been daunted by the flood of Democrat-leaning fact-checkers.

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