Ryan marred speech with misstatements

No one knows who first came up with the line that “if you repeat something enough times, it becomes truth,” but Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan sure seems to subscribe to that maxim.

In a stem-winder Wednesday night, which began oh so slowly before reaching a fever pitch, Ryan mesmerized a Republican National Convention audience in Tampa that was ravenous for his take-no-prisoners rhetoric.

It didn’t matter to them that some of what Ryan said wasn’t 100 percent true, but it should have mattered to Ryan, who surely knew he risked having any polling gains generated by his oration evaporate later as more voters learned of his legerdemain.

Right-leaning Fox News apologetically pointed out that Ryan stretched the truth when the congressman blamed President Obama for the closing of a General Motors plant in his Wisconsin district. It shut down during the Bush administration. Fox also noted Ryan had voted against the Bowles-Simpson deficit-reduction plan that he skewered Obama for not supporting.

Ryan made other remarks that altered or omitted key information. He criticized Obama for wanting to “cut” $716 billion from Medicare, but never mentioned that the money would come from reduced payments to hospitals and insurance companies — not by reducing benefits. He also failed to say that his own health-care plan included similar savings.

The congressman joined the GOP throng in deriding Obama for a statement that they have taken out of context to suggest Obama believes government deserves all the credit for any individual business’ success. “Yes, you did build that,” said Ryan in a shout-out to small-business owners. Yes, they did. But many also received a government loan, subsidy, tax break, advice, or other assistance.

Ryan brought tears to some eyes as he recounted the death of his father, and how his mother worked hard to provide for her family. The way he worked his way through college and embraced an ethic of self-reliance that has made him one of the most powerful members of Congress is inspirational.

Too bad he decided to spoil the narrative with intentional misstatements about his election foe. That’s not to say the Obama camp has never mischaracterized the Republican ticket. It is to say that type of behavior is exactly why the word politician has become a pejorative. The American public can handle the truth; in fact, it tends to reward those who speak it.