Last Wednesday, conservative radio talker Hugh Hewitt posted the transcript of an interview with GOP vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan. It is heavy on biography. As Ryan talked about his early life and interests, and this exchange occurred:
HEWITT: Are you still running?
RYAN: Yeah, I hurt a disc in my back, so I don’t run marathons anymore. I just run ten miles or yes.
HEWITT: But you did run marathons at some point?
RYAN: Yeah, but I can’t do it anymore, because my back is just not that great.
HEWITT: I’ve just gotta ask, what’s your personal best?
RYAN: Under three, high twos. I had a two hour and fifty-something.
HEWITT: Holy smokes. All right, now you go down to Miami University…
RYAN: I was fast when I was younger, yeah.
The only problem with the story about the sub 3-hour marathon (which is quite a feat) is that it’s not true. Runner’s World magazine caught Ryan in that fib, and he later corrected the record: His time was more than four hours.
The matter has little substance, except to the extent that it bears on character. And it wouldn’t seem to bear much on that, except for what happened later Wednesday.
Ryan took the stage at the Republican National Convention in Tampa and, in a speech that was widely criticized for serial inaccuracies, proceeded accuse the Obama administration of things that were flatly untrue, or riddled with lies by omission. You can find the list, with explanations, on Think Progress:
Among the items it cites:
- Rating agencies blamed America’s downgraded credit on Republicans (Ryan blames Obama);
- Ryan blamed a Wisconsin GM plant closure on Obama (it closed before the president took office);
- Ryan blames the failure of Bowles-Simpson on Obama (Ryan himself worked against Bowles-Simpson);
- Obama robbed $716 billion from Medicare to pay for the Affordable Care Act (no seniors will lose care or coverage, and Ryan’s plan did the same thing).
In that context, the sub-3 hour marathon takes on added significance. And what it seems to mean is that Ryan, not used to his statements being fact-checked regularly during his political career, has a big problem with facts. With the media’s appetite already whetted, he needs to be especially careful moving forward.
That assumes, of course, that Ryan cares about the truth.
A Romney/Ryan pollster already has dismissed the importance of that. “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers,” he said in Tampa, on a panel organized by ABC News.
Let’s hope that’s not an indication Ryan doesn’t care about the difference between fact and fiction.
I’d hate to think that these guys believe they have so much money that it just doesn’t matter.