Why (things like) Paul Ryan’s marathon lies matter (to me.)

David Ryan

David Ryan is a boat builder and USCG licensed master captain. He is the owner of Sailing Montauk and skipper of Montauk''s charter sailing catamaran MON TIKI You can follow him on Twitter @CaptDavidRyan

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154 Responses

  1. Cermet says:

    Sorry but Ryan IS a bigger man (general sense of the word) than you or I; since Raygun changed the “world” (debt for us, wealth for the real elite) the top 1% (really the 0.01%) got in charge of the rethug party fully and even determine much of what the demo-rat party can do (thru money following so freely from banks and wall street.) Get use to it for as long as we accept being very second-class citizens by voting as splinter groups (divided by the 0.01% thru religion and race) being a second rate amerikan is a fact of life. While no one could have prevented the fall of the Middle Class, how the 0.01% view us as their own piggy bank to bleed dry is now blatant – worse, the thugs are leading the charge and aiding them currently with a presidential candidate. As for President Obama – who did he rescue (hint: banks) and who were left holding the underwater mortgages? While Obama is still the better choice, he plays under the thumb of the 0.01% like we all do – at least for now. If the Supreme Court was not in play, I would really consider letting the elite really finish the job … sorry, just kidding.Report

  2. I don’t follow.

    I confess that I haven’t heard the news about Ryan’s marathon lie, so once I know the details I might be less sanguine. But what’s the comparison to Clinton? Would a vice president Ryan run a marathon and later claim a better time than he got, and then the resulting furor lead to an impeachment trial?

    I’ll probably get an answer about how art is intersubjective and how one must gain meaning from it based on one’s relationship to it, a similar response to what BSK/Kazzy got a long while back when you titled a post in a way that seemed, at least superficially, racist (the “I don’t like black chicks” post). But I guess I’m not really an art appreciator, then.Report

    • David Ryan in reply to Pierre Corneille says:

      “But what’s the comparison to Clinton?”

      A lack of situational awareness, an inability to comport himself appropriately in said situation and and an inability apprehend and/or care about the possible consequence for anyone other than himself.Report

    • Sierra Nevada in reply to Pierre Corneille says:

      Now I am scared. The only people who are going to realize what kind of whopper that lie was are those who have trained hard to establish personal record marathon runs. I have, and I know exactly how hard it is to run a sub 3:30 marathon, and how very very very hard it is to run a sub 3. Anyone who has ever actually run a marathon would not have innocently made this mistake. And he didn’t just toss it off, he said it and reinforced it later in the interview.

      As soon as I saw this story, my thought was exactly this: “Wow. This guy is no run of the mill politician who tells the conventional lies of his political tribe to get elected. This is a pathological liar, of a dangerous sort. Someone who needs to be thought of as a superior human being, and will tell huge lies to be thought so. Holy Crap, we are in trouble.”

      I have been angry at the Obama administration for a while now for running a scare campaign against the republicans. But now Ryan himself has made me well and truly scared that he actually probably is the kind of character-defected personality that occasionally wrecks countries.Report

  3. George Turner says:

    I don’t agree that his mistake was necessarily intentional, given that he didn’t put much thought into the interview and its question. Ryan ran the race an hour slower than he could’ve considered a decent time. Decades later, not having run another one, if he mentally added an hour to the times people now think is really good (closing in on two hours), he’d come up with three hours instead of four, likewise momentarily thinking that everyone an hour off a decent time is finishing in three hours. My young neighbor did the same thing when he claimed he ran a mile in about three minutes at school, taking a time the coach said (three minutes off some particular benchmark) and not running the figure through a range of back-of-the-envelope mental cross checks.

    Unless this is part of a larger pattern, this sounds more like Obama visiting 57 states, screwing up a gut level mental subtraction, as opposed to not remembering anything Jeremiah Wright said, or having only a vague, passing association with Bill Ayers despite working across the hall from him and launching a political career at his house.Report

    • RC in reply to George Turner says:

      Sorry, I don’t think so. The mile thing I get-young, goofy. Ryan obviously trained for the race, and I do not know of any runner that would make that kind of mistake. 4:01 versus “sub 3 hour” is a deliberate inflation of his athletic prowess, which pretty much fits his pattern of behavior in public. 57 is a slip, saying sub 3 twice during the course of an interview is not.Report

  4. Fnord says:

    So the problem with Clinton is that it became a political circus? If that’s really the big problem, then wouldn’t the country be better off everyone did ignore things like that (and by extension, like Ryan’s)?Report

    • David Ryan in reply to Fnord says:

      No, the problem is that Bill Clinton should have anticipated:

      1) That, if discovered, any trangression on his part would be seized upon by his political enemies.

      2) That a 22 year-old woman was an extremely poor choice of consort.

      Likely some large part of him understood this — and yet he did it anyway. Everything that happened after that was made possible by his failure.

      Similarly, Paul Ryan had every reason to tell the truth, be self-deprecating, or at least to be vague about his history as a marathoner, and instead he leapt at the chance for self-aggrandizement by lying about things that could easily be checked. He never ran marathons; he ran a marathon. He has no personal best; he ran his only marathon in 4:01. His inablity to control his impulse to present himself as a superior person, even if it means telling a lie that is easily uncovered at a time when he is under intense scrutiny is indicative of a character defect at least as profound as Clinton’sReport

      • Tom Van Dyke in reply to David Ryan says:

        Clinton’s problem was legal, the Paula Jones case. We don’t impeach for adultery.

        As for this Ryan thing, every candidate in recent memory has something similar, and in a one-to-one comparison, Biden’s plagiarism is worse. Obama, I don’t even want to get started on. It is what it is.

        Oh, & BTW, Clinton was notorious for his multiple mulligans and lying about his golf scores. And we’d vote him right back in tomorrow, so I’m like, whatever.Report

        • Sam in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:


          Please specify what you’re alluding to about Obama.Report

          • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Sam says:

            Google Obama mother cancer health insuranceReport

          • greginak in reply to Sam says:

            Sam, what tom is alluding to is what is apparently his favourite recent factoid. O claimed his mother had to fight to get her cancer covered by health insurance. In fact it was disability insurance she had to fight for since the company claimed her cancer was a pre-existing condition. See…see…its wasn’t her health insurance company she had to fight with regarding whether cancer was pre-existing it was a disability insurance company. But O said is was a about health insurance. This is apparently the scandal that some think should rock the foundations of the O presidency. Meanwhile Ryan’s actual budget plan adds trillions to the debt to cut taxes on the rich, but lets not talk about that.Report

            • Tom Van Dyke in reply to greginak says:

              Obama’s in the docket, not Tom. 😉

              And let’s just say it’s more relevant than marathon times. As is Biden plagiarizing someone else’s autobiography!Report

      • Fnord in reply to David Ryan says:

        If you think Ryan’s and Clinton’s character defect affects his ability to govern in the abstract, if you think a man who would lie about a marathon time or an affair would lie about matters of public concern (or, for that matter, if you think that the lies themselves were about matters of public concern), then say so.

        But it seems like you’re saying that this defect only affects governing in an environment where “if discovered, any transgression…would be seized upon by…political enemies.” And, as a remedy, you seem to suggest I, a political enemy of Ryan, seize upon his transgression.Report

        • David Ryan in reply to Fnord says:

          You misunderstand. Lying is not the defect. The defect is an appalling failure of self-control. In Paul Ryan’s case, this failure of self control takes the form of a stupid, reckless, unnecessary, contrary to self-interest lie; in Bill Clinton it takes the form of a stupid, reckless, unnecessary, contrary to self-interest affair with an intern, which he compounded by lying.Report

          • Burt Likko in reply to David Ryan says:

            Who amongst us doesn’t have a lapse of impulse control? Who amongst us does not have an ego in need of gratification and a set of emotions that gets carried away during exciting times?

            Seems to me Ryan got caught up in the moment and gave in to all the flattery and excitement. Not commendable, but forgivable.Report

            • David Ryan in reply to Burt Likko says:

              I heard the exact same defense of Clinton; and yes, everyone makes mistakes born of vanity, that more or less sums up my blogging here at the league. But I expect more from a president or presidential hopeful because there is more at stake.

              Put it this way: Every gym has some guy who can drain threes all day long on an empty court, but there are very few guys who can hit the clutch shot at the buzzer in the finals.Report

            • Sam in reply to Burt Likko says:

              I think I would prefer that those proposing to be elected leaders attempt, at least a bit, not to have lapses of impulse control, especially over issues as trivial as marathon times, given that most us would simply be impressed that he’d run the damn thing in the first place. BlaiseP was right elsewhere; Ryan could have simply said, “I ran the damn thing, and it was hard.” Instead, it wasn’t enough to have done it. He had to do it in a time (sub 3:00, which even at 2:59:59 is still running 26.2 6:52 miles) that is otherworldly by most standards. And that’s before you get into the disrespect it shows for those who are genuinely capable of producing such a time.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Sam says:

                Nice to see you back in the thread, Sam. I trust you were appeased with my reply to your previous challenge [and you Googled “Obama mother cancer health insurance”], since you didn’t acknowledge it. I do hope you understand it was a rather unfulfilling experience on this end.Report

          • Fnord in reply to David Ryan says:

            Again, if you think the poor impulse control is going to lead him to invade Russia because he had a bad day, say that. If you think the defect, whatever it is, will actually affect the substantive business of government, say so. There might be a reasonable argument there.

            Because that doesn’t seem to be what you’re arguing here. You seem to be saying that the problem is that the defect gives political opponents the opportunity to derail the substantive business of government over irrelevant trivia.Report

            • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Fnord says:

              I really wasn’t following who said what when Brother Fnord cut the Gordian Knot and I think I broke a rib when I fell off the chair.

              “Again, if you think the poor impulse control is going to lead him to invade Russia because he had a bad day, say that.”Report

            • Sam in reply to Fnord says:

              The question of relevance in the game of politics is moot. If your opponent would make hay of it if he caught you doing it, he doesn’t get to complain when the same thing is done to him. And given that movement Republicans have lost their minds about everything in recent years (“NASA’s new logo is evidence of creeping Shariah!” comes immediately to mind), there can’t be any dismissal of the fact that their own guy is plainly a liar about silly little things.Report

            • David Ryan in reply to Fnord says:


              What I’m saying is that when a person shows the sort of inablitiy to control their impulses that both Bill Clinton and Paul Ryan have shown, there’s no knowing where that might lead, because you manifestly can’t say about either of them “They’ll be able to control themselves when the stakes are high” because guess what, both of them showed us that they can’t.

              This isn’t an if/then proposition. It’s a weakness, a profound one, and it’s only by sheer luck that does or doesn’t manifest at a moment when it’s consequential.Report

  5. Ramblin' Rod says:

    I thought of Clinton as well. But it was the other Clinton–Hillary–and in a different context.

    Back during the 07′-’08 primary season us Demo’s were blessed with an abundance of attractive candidates: Hillary, Obama, and Edwards leading the pack. All of them competent, charismatic, and skilled politicians capable of winning the general with very little daylight betwixt their policy positions. Personally, I was having a hard time deciding which I liked better.

    I forget the exact timing (and don’t feel like doing the research at the moment) but there was an incident at a campaign event or interview where Hillary recounted a trip to Kosovo as a first lady (? , maybe Bosnia? I forget now.) and supposedly she and Chelsea were greeted with gunfire on the tarmac. Well it was bullshit. It was insulting to the Secret Service and the military guys entrusted with her safety to think they would put her and Chelsea in that kind of danger. And it was easily–and almost instantly!–disproven; there were witnesses and videos.

    That’s the point where she lost me and I decided on Obama. It wasn’t so much that she had lied, per se. As your wife noted, a certain degree of lying, stretching the truth, creative characterizations and interpretations, etc. are part and parcel of the profession. It was that it was such a transparent, easily refuted, and–most of all–totally pointless prevarication.

    Why? What in the hell was she trying to accomplish? Telling the truth is always easier and requires much less mental effort than lying, at least for normal people. It is often worth the effort, but we need a reason to put out that effort. But for some people lying comes easily and effortlessly, and they don’t necessarily need much of a reason.

    I’m not surprised she has done well at State. I would imagine a big part of diplomacy is smiling and making nice (or at least not making not-nice) with some asshole you would desperately love to throttle.

    Anyway, Paul Ryan reminds me a lot of that. Just pointless lying for little or no reason; just as natural as breathing. I mean… by my count he lied four times over something nobody cares about! First he claimed to have run several (One: he only ever ran one) marathons and clocked a time a little less than (Two: should have been “more than”) three (Three: should have been “four”) hours. Then when he’s caught out on this he dismisses it saying he should have rounded up to four hours instead (Four: You don’t round up to 4 from less than 3. You round up to 4 from like 3 1/2 or something.).

    And then there’s his convention speech…Report

    • George Turner in reply to Ramblin' Rod says:

      “Then when he’s caught out on this he dismisses it saying he should have rounded up to four hours instead (Four: You don’t round up to 4 from less than 3. You round up to 4 from like 3 1/2 or something.).”

      That, I think, illuminates the mathematical mistake in his head. He was just a bit past four (on a rotating clock), or less than four, which is three something. But the other side of just a bit past three something (he was a bit past the hour mark) would be in the high twos. The mistake is still in his head even when he’s trying to correct it. He’s moving the minute hand around the top of the hour mark but losing track of the hour hand, and once he’s seen it he can’t unsee it, so the same error keeps cropping up.

      The “several marathons” is probalby not a lie to voters, it’s a long-running lie to himself, over the years figuring that several mini-marathons and shorter races count as roughly another marathon, sort of, which makes mental calculations much easier. Everybody does things like that when they exercise, summing small numbers of reps and sets scattered over the week into smaller number of “really good workouts”, or adding up the little distances where they kicked into a jog several times that day and categorizing it as one long, continuous run of the same length.

      Do all marathoners lie to themselves? Yes, every single step for 26 miles. Weightlifters lie too.

      We should call it “gym math.”Report

      • David Ryan in reply to George Turner says:

        If Paul Ryan is a serious runner he knows a sub three marathon is a very fast time. If it’s a “rounding error” the runner in him would have said “No, wait, that can’t be right.” But if you go back and read the read of the transcript, when his interviewer expresses amazement, Ryan doubles down.

        He’s lying. And he’s choosing to tell a stupid, easy to catch lie, for the sake of his vanity, in the clutch.

        Don’t say you weren’t warned.Report

        • Kazzy in reply to David Ryan says:

          I fear we are ignoring the “Don’t chalk up to malice what can easily be chalked up to stupidity” corollary. Is it possible that this instance is one in a long-string of bigger/faster/better-than-thou lies that points to a major interpersonal character flaw? Yes. Do we know enough about Ryan to conclude this definitively and to be confident about his intentions? I don’t.Report

          • David Ryan in reply to Kazzy says:

            Fine. Have it your way. Paul Ryan, the “brave and serious truth-teller” blew an easy lay up at the start of the big game.

            Don’t say you weren’t warned.Report

            • Kazzy in reply to David Ryan says:

              It’s not “my way”… I’m simply advocating that we avoid jumping to conclusions. I, personally, don’t know much about Ryan. Maybe you know more that better justifies your interpretation of events. If so, it’d be good to see you flesh that out. If Ryan’s line is part of a bigger pattern, I agree that it is concerning. I just don’t know enough to answer that “if” yet.Report

              • Ramblin' Rod in reply to Kazzy says:

                Well, Kazzy, to start with let’s look at his convention speech:

                1. “A downgraded America.” Ryan blamed the president for the nation’s credit downgrade in August 2011 after Republicans threatened to allow the government to default on its debt for the first time in history. But the ratings agency explicitly blamed “Republicans saying that they refuse to accept any tax increases as part of a larger deal.”

                2. “More debt than any other president before him, and more than all the troubled governments of Europe combined.” Romney has made the almost identical claim, that Obama has amassed more debt “as almost all of the other presidents combined.” But their math doesn’t add up: when Obama took office, the national debt was $10.626 trillion. It has increased to slightly above $15 trillion.

                3. Shuttered General Motors plant is “one more broken promise.” Ryan described a GM plant that closed down in his hometown, Janesville, Wisconsin, and blamed Obama for breaking his promise to keep the plant open when he visited during his campaign. But Obama never made that promise, and the plant shut down in December 2008, before Obama even took office.

                4. Obama “did exactly nothing” on Bowles-Simpson. Ryan said, “He created a bipartisan debt commission. They came back with an urgent report. He thanked them, sent them on their way, and then did exactly nothing.” In fact, Ryan was instrumental in sabotaging the commission, leading the other House Republicans in voting against the plan.

                5. “$716 billion, funneled out of Medicare by President Obama.” Ryan’s favorite lie is a deliberate distortion of Obamacare’s savings from eliminating inefficiencies. Furthermore, Ryan’s own plan for Medicare includes these savings. Romney has vowed to restore these cuts, which would render the trust fund insolvent 8 years ahead of schedule.

                6. “The greatest of all responsibilities is that of the strong to protect the weak.” Ryan closed the speech with an invocation of social responsibility, saying, “The truest measure of any society is how it treats those who cannot defend or care for themselves.” However, numerous clergy members have condemned Ryan’s budget plan as “cruel,” and “an immoral disaster” because of its devastating cuts in social programs the poor and sick rely on. Meanwhile, Ryan would give ultra-rich individuals and corporations $3 trillion in tax breaks.

                Now I’m not sure I would count the last item as a “lie” so much as just bullshit, but there’s a distinct pattern here.

                BTW, I normally wouldn’t cite ThinkProgress because it’s obviously a biased site. On the other hand, the righties don’t hesitate to cite Heritage and Cato to support their positions, so what the hell. In any case, Ryan’s been called out by a lot of people from both sides on the Janesville plant prevarication. A Fox News commentator even wrote “To anyone paying the slightest bit of attention to facts, Ryan’s speech was an apparent attempt to set the world record for the greatest number of blatant lies and misrepresentations slipped into a single political speech.”Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Ramblin' Rod says:

                Ramblin’ Rod-

                A few things…

                First, I don’t know that I’ve seen you ’round these parts before so, if you are indeed new, welcome! If I’ve missed you or simply forgotten about interactions we’ve had previously, my apologies.

                Second, a bit about myself (in case you don’t know)… I’m far more liberal than I am conservative. Any defense I seemed to be offering to Ryan was more in the name of prudence and anti-partisanship than it was an actual defense of him or his politics. I personally think that one of the easiest ways to undermine legitimate criticism is with needless criticism… e.g., making fun of Christie’s weight or Bush’s ears or Obama’s odor just makes the person leveling the criticism look unserious and silly and ultimately obscures the very real criticism that can be levied.

                To the specifics here, it is my understanding that Ryan’s speech was riddled with falsehoods, misrepresentations, and other such muckedy-muck. With this in mind, I think it reasonable to call into question how honesty or trustworthy he is. Looking at his comments with regards to the marathon support similar examination. However, I see the former as far more common (though not acceptable) in politics and are often motivated by political expediency. The latter is another story. And I think David’s hypothesis here is a valid one… we all know the guy who has to one-up everyone else, truth be damned. Is it possible that Ryan is “that guy”? Absolutely. Is that concerning? Absolutely. However, I personally view the two types of lies as different enough that I don’t personally feel comfortable using the former to illustrate a pattern with the latter.

                Ryan apparently lies to further his political agenda. What else is new? He’s doing what politicians do… whatever it takes to get what they want. Does he do it more than others? Or more obviously or blatantly? It appears that way and, indeed, that is a cause for concern and criticism.

                But is he a pathological liar such that he would insist he climbed Mount Everest twice if the guy next to him said he did it once? The type of liar who demonstrates a fundamental insecurity and need for external approval? The type of liar who would make for a HORRIBLE leader? I think the jury is still out on that, because I’d need to see more of that type of lie to conclude it. That’s all I’m saying.

                And I wouldn’t call it unreasonable for folks to lump all the lies in together and say, “Once a liar, always a liar.” I just personally take a different tact.Report

              • David Ryan in reply to Kazzy says:

                “But is he a pathological liar such that he would insist he climbed Mount Everest twice if the guy next to him said he did it once? The type of liar who demonstrates a fundamental insecurity and need for external approval?

                I think the answer to this question is yes, but that’s an inference on my part and only tangential to the thrust of the post. What is irrefutable is that Paul Ryan made an “wildly over-reaching, easily disprovable, self-aggrandizing boast” (is that sufficiently prevaricating for you?) at a time when he had to (should have) know he would get caught.

                That’s what’s Clintonesque (and troubling) about his behavior.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to David Ryan says:

                I still think that saying he made an “wildly over-reaching, easily disprovable, self-aggrandizing boast” ignores the possibility that he might have just fudged up the numbers.

                I work out a lot, primarily weight work. Not too long ago I went to do a particular exercise and found myself completely unable to move the bar. “What the hell!” I thought. I was certain I had the weight right… 25lbs per side, 50lbs total on top of the bar’s weight (45lbs). I tried again. Still nothing. I went back to look at my notes and saw that I was weigh off… I needed a TOTAL weight of 50lbs., not an additional 50lbs on top of the 45lbs. I had basically doubled the weight. Not even close! And this was an exercise I had done just a few days before that with the correct weight!

                I just see too many alternate explanations for this one “lie” to conclude anything about Ryan’s character.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to David Ryan says:

                ignores the possibility that he might have just fudged up the numbers.

                This is impossible, I’d say. Or so far out of the realm of possibility it makes no sense to even suggest. A person who trains seriously knows what their times were/are. It’s part of the training!Report

              • Kazzy in reply to David Ryan says:

                So what do you make of me fudging my weight numbers?Report

              • Kazzy in reply to David Ryan says:

                “Fudging up” or “fishing up”, I should say… “Fudge” implies a deliberate misrepresentation.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to David Ryan says:

                So what do you make of me fudging my weight numbers?

                Nothing at all. You didn’t misrepresent them to anyone.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to David Ryan says:

                My point is that, after 10 years, Ryan might genuinely think he ran a sub-3 marathon because somewhere along the line he mixed up the numbers in his head.

                There are two primary possibilities, as I see it:
                Ryan KNEW he didn’t run a sub-3 marathon but said he did because he thought it’d impress people and that he wouldn’t get caught.
                Ryan THOUGHT he ran a sub-3 marathon because somewhere along the line he screwed up the numbers in his head and thought nothing of saying what he genuinely thought to be true.

                I’ve done the latter and consider it entirely possible that Ryan did the same.

                Has he been publicly called out on the inaccuracy? If so, how has he responded? That would be telling…Report

              • Stillwater in reply to David Ryan says:

                The question you want me to answer is this: Could Ryan have misremembered his marathon time? On one level, the answer is sure, but unlikely (really unlikely). On another, it’s an impossible burden to meet. So what’s the evidence that he’s lying? From the pov of people who run, there is just no way to confuse a sub-three with a sub-four. A sub-three is running at under a seven minute per mile pace for 26 miles. Anyone who runs at any level of seriousness knows that a sub-three is reallyreally hard to do. And anyone who runs a marathon – which requires a serious commitment to training – would immediately recognize the error.Report

              • Ramblin' Rod in reply to Kazzy says:

                I was posting for quite a while as just “Rod” but someone (Will?) was complaining about there being multiple “Chris’s” and not being able to distinguish them so I prepended “Rambling” rather than make up a last name (or use my real one). So, yeah, I’m the guy that drives a truck and espouses oddball economic theories and a generally liberal attitude.

                And I don’t disagree with your analysis. Ryan’s past statements will be torn apart in the next couple months and maybe a larger pattern will appear.Report

              • Rtod in reply to Ramblin' Rod says:

                Your new moniker has had me wondering if you grew up in Portland?Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Ramblin' Rod says:


                “Ryan’s past statements will be torn apart in the next couple months and maybe a larger pattern will appear.”

                I think this is likely. But I’d rather wait for it to happen than to do it preemptively when it can still be countered with, “You’re jumping to conclusions.” I’d rather build a strong case, one much less susceptible to counter-arguments. Which is why I have no future in politics… 😀Report

              • Glyph in reply to Ramblin' Rod says:

                Which is why I have no future in politics

                I hereby propose that any Leaguer who DOES appear to have a future in politics, be subject to immediate and irrevocable ban from the League.

                I can talk to conservatives, liberals, libertarians; people who are gay, straight, and any kind of harmless or perverted kink you can imagine (so long as no children, animals or nonconsenting adults are harmed). Male/Female/Neither/Both/Other. Young or old, smart or slow. Spambots that can pass a Turing Test. All are welcome.

                But politicians?

                We all must draw our lines somewhere, sir. 😉Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Ramblin' Rod says:

                I’ve considered getting involved in local school politics. Would that bar me?Report

              • Glyph in reply to Ramblin' Rod says:

                I understand that you little guys start out with your local school politics and you think they’re great… and they are, they are terrific. But pretty soon, local school politics aren’t enough. You’re out on the street trying to score a Neighborhood Review Board, or maybe a City Councilship. And the next thing you know, you’re strung out on City Comptroller, Kazzy. That’s serious.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Ramblin' Rod says:

                I suppose the school board IS a gateway elected office…Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to Ramblin' Rod says:

                One of my favorite Keaton quotes right there 🙂Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Ramblin' Rod says:

                Alex P.? Or Michael?Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Ramblin' Rod says:


              • Kazzy in reply to Ramblin' Rod says:

                Buster Bluth?Report

      • RC in reply to George Turner says:

        Wow, those are some serious contortions to go through to justify his “slip.”Report

  6. NewDealer says:

    I think when politicians get away or do not get away with misdeeds of one sort or another is largely a result of polarization and partisanship.

    Let’s look at the cases of Elliot Spitzer and David Vitter who both got in trouble for the same issue. Both went to escort services (BTW this is in no way to spell out my own personal position on sex workers and whether prostitution/escorting should be legal or not) and allegedly engaged in some risque/taboo sex. Vitter had his diaper fetish and Spitzer like bareback blowjobs. Vitter remained in power but Spitzer resigned pretty quickly? We have no idea what happened behind the scenes but if Vitter resigned, he would have been replaced by a Democrat because the governor of Louisiana at the time was a Democrat. Spitzer was replaced by a Democrat and there was really no hope at that point for the Republicans to gain the governorship of NY. Spitzer’s successor was not very popular but New York was blue enough at the time to make sure that a Republican would not get the seat.

    Anthony Weiner and a congressional Republican from upstate were forced to resign because of sending nude photos to women on-line. Both of them were from perceived safe seats but ended up being replaced by a member of the opposite party. I’m sure that if you told Pelosi and Bohener about these results, the parties would have let them stay and repent.

    The same goes for Clinton and Ryan. Both are well-known and polarizing figures. And in Clinton’s case, the witch-hunt was led by Newt Gingrich at a time when he was seen as an ultra-partisan who shut down the government. Newt and other House members like Henry Hyde were known adulterers so that added to the sting of partisan hypocrisy. If there is one thing that many liberals and secular types dislike about the religious right is that we sense that they are largely very hypocritical. They preach morals but act in a very different way. No conservative bugs me more than the privilege of the cognitive dissnoance conservative. The kind of person who thinks it is okay for them to drink, smoke pot, and have sex because they are wealthy and white but will then go rail against it. This is why the party rallied around Bill instead of letting him get impeached. Democrats that sided with the Republicans lost a lot of cred in the party for doing so like Newt Gingrich.

    Anyway am I being too cynical by wondering how many of our politicians have open marriages or at least a marriage that is more about power than love? Not all of them, Jenny Sanford and Elizabeth Edwards seemed appalled and truly upset by their husbands adultery. Others I am not so sure of. The Obamas (and to be fair The Romneys) seem to have a marriage based more on love and mutual respect than the Clintons. At least in my eyes. For all his faults, Bush II never struck me as an adulterer. It doesn’t make him a good President though.

    Though I also think you are right and this largely says something about our political process. I think to be a politician in the United States, you need to be made of very strong stuff or even be a bit cold. I don’t think that many people can stand the pressure and brutal nature of an American styled campaign. You have to know that the attacks will be brutal, personal, misleading, bring up old ghosts, etc. We have developed a form of campaigning that scares of decent people except from the most safe seats or the most local elections.Report

    • NewDealer in reply to NewDealer says:

      I should say most decent people. I think Obama is a fundamentally decent person. There are probably a lot of people in safe house seats that are fundamentally decent people and a good amount of Senators.Report

  7. Steve S. says:

    “Why would Ryan tell such an inconsequential, avoidable fib, just to make himself look good? For the same reason Clinton serially cheated on his wife.”

    No offense to your wife, but she didn’t “nail it” here. Thinking that the motivations for sexual activity are indistinguishable from those for other types of behavior is needlessly simplistic. I find it amazing that in the year 2012 the notion that people engage in sexual behavior because they enjoy sexual behavior is simply waved off as an impossibility.Report

  8. zic says:

    This a house built of correlation, not causation.

    1) Republicans had some role here. Sure, they did not have sex with that woman, but they hounded on it (while many, like Newt, had their own ‘that woman,). They also spent millions chasing after the White Water non-scandal. There was a concerted attempt to discredit and bring down Clinton’s presidency with blatant disregard for the national welfare.

    2) The Supreme Court had something to do with the outcome of the 2,000 election. As did massive voter disenfranchisement in FL before the election. Remember, there were more folk turned away from the polls because they’d been purged from the election roles for having names similar to a known felon then the margin between Bush and Gore. And re-count procedures mattered — had they just recounted the counties Gore requested, he’d still have lost. But part of the SC decision was based on the recount Gore asked for, not the whole state. Had they recounted the whole state, I believe academic research indicates Gore would have won by the slimmest of margins.

    3) Today, we have a Republican controlled House and 60-vote majority in the Senate which has done nothing by attempt to obstruct a president who won office on a land slide. Like their actions during the Clinton years, the Republicans in Congress feel it’s more important to obstruct Democratic presidents then to put the nations interests first.

    This is a strange way of blaming Bush’s failures — Iraq War, Financial Collapse, and mounting debt, on Monica, who’s photo you’ve selfishly put on the top of this post.

    Shame on you.Report

    • zic in reply to zic says:

      I need to be a little bit more blunt here:

      Using Lewinsky’s photograph on this post us a kind of misogyny; a using of women in a way that indicates you’re unaware of what you’re doing or the consequences your actions might have. Exactly the concern you’ve expressed about Clinton and Ryan.

      She was 22 at the time; I’m sure you did things at 22 that you don’t want dragging you down for the rest of your life; would you like them brought up every time someone wants to make a point about some one else? And why is it okay to use her photo when you’re discussing him? This isn’t an exploration of her thinking, her actions, her morals.

      It’s very easy to act the unthinking, egotistical lout when you’re trying to impress somone, be they your on-line friends, a potential sexual partner, campaign contributors, or voters; it’s easy to avoid thinking about the costs to others as you build yourself up.

      I wonder if the reason you pivoted off your wife here is to give you permission, from a woman, to pursue this bit of thoughtless misogyny. If so, you already knew it was wrong; you already knew you were doing the very thing you’ve attempted to condemn in this piece.Report

      • David Ryan in reply to zic says:

        I take umbrage at your use of the word “thoughtless”.Report

        • Kazzy in reply to David Ryan says:

          So it wasthoughtful mysogony?Report

          • David Ryan in reply to Kazzy says:

            Yes, it was thoughtful misogyny.

            Oh wait a minute. It wasn’t thoughtful misogyny. It was the article “her” in the last line referring to the woman named in the preceding line, Hilary Clinton, his wife and long-time political partner, a standard English syntax; and not, as the vexed commenter zic misreads, the unnamed 22 year-old subjected of Bill Clinton’s reckless and inappropriate attention.Report

            • Kazzy in reply to David Ryan says:

              But I think his point still stands… It is kind of hard to describe her as the “unnamed 22-year-old” when the first thing anyone sees when they look at this post is a large picture of her.Report

              • Ramblin' Rod in reply to Kazzy says:

                I find it interesting that our resident film-maker, ostensibly highly skilled in visual communications, seems to catch a lot of s*** for the images he chooses to attach to his posts.

                I have no idea what that means.Report

              • Rtod in reply to Ramblin' Rod says:

                That too many people took Intro to Media their sophomore year?Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to Ramblin' Rod says:

                It means that he’s got the same problem I had (and have), which is that he tends to do things that only make sense if you’re him and thinking what he was thinking right then.Report

              • David Ryan in reply to Kazzy says:

                For better or worse, Ms. Lewinsky’s face is the visual signifier of the whole sorry episode. Her picture graced the cover of Time Magazine in March of 1999


                The use of her image her is a visual framing of the post. Suggesting I am blaming Lewinsky for the tragedy of the Bush administration is either delusional or disingenuous; and reminds me that the Clinton administration itself (shamefully) tried to portray her as a temptress that had seduce the serially philandering Clinton.


              • Kazzy in reply to David Ryan says:

                “…For better or worse, Ms. Lewinsky’s face is the visual signifier of the whole sorry episode…”

                Let’s assume it is “for worse”… if so, why contribute to this? You could have chosen any visual signifier. And given that your premise seems to be that the Clintons, both Bill and Hillary, are truly the ones we should be looking at with regards to this situation, why not follow that through with the visuals offered? You want to make an uncommon point about this issue (one I more broadly agree with and, even if I didn’t, I’d encourage you to do!) but then throw out not only the most common visual associated with the issue, but one that completely undermines your point.Report

              • David Ryan in reply to Kazzy says:

                Unframed visuals of Bill and Hilary mean nothing, or at least will not, on first glance, be assumed to have been offered in relationship to l’affiar Lewinsky. The image works because it instantly say “This post is going to draw a comparison between the recklessness Paul Ryan’s marathon lies and Bill Clinton’s recklessness with regard to Monica Lewinsky” which I suppose I could have written out, but jeez, that’s dreary.

                It’s call visual communication for a reason.Report

              • rexknobus in reply to David Ryan says:

                It is indeed called “visual communication” for a reason. You put up a picture of a person involved in a sex scandal; who is known publicly only for that sex scandal; who is an attractive young lady who has lot of words creepily attached to her (words concerning clothing and smoking materials, etc.) because of the hugely publicized sex scandal…so you’re writing the word “SEX!” visually to sell your post. Good on you. Made me read it. (Even though you were really talking about politics). But don’t get all huffy about it.

                And I’m a filmmaker/visual communicator myself. Wanna compare IMDB pages?Report

              • Glyph in reply to David Ryan says:

                If enough people remembered what Gary Hart looked like, his face alone w/ no females would have instantly made much the same point w/r/t recklessness, though the ‘alternate history as a result of that recklessness’ throughline may have been harder to draw.

                I see zic’s point that using Lewinsky’s image rather than that of the true ‘villain’ (Bill) could unintentionally further her smearing in some circles, but I also understand David’s use of her pic as visual shorthand to refer to the incident itself (an image of Bill alone wouldn’t get us right to the Lewinsky scandal).

                Maybe just an image of the blue dress? Would that have helped, or would *that* visual shorthand have been considered potentially misogynistic too?

                Also, I was thinking the same thing as Ramblin’ Rod – it’s a shame that David’s last 2 posts have gotten a little sidetracked by ‘why’d you use this image rather than that one?’ debates.

                Not saying the people who want to have those debates are necessarily wrong – in each case I can see some of their POV – it’s just curious.Report

              • David Ryan in reply to David Ryan says:

                The (a?) blue dress would have been genius! Genius!Report

              • David Ryan in reply to David Ryan says:

                Also, (most of the time) I don’t use images or clips casually; they are as much a part of my post as the text. So I’m not disappointed to have a thread “side-tracked” by discussions of the images used in the text; I like the quality of abiguity that images have, especially when placed against the much more fixed meaning of text.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to David Ryan says:

                But I think what folks here are telling you is that you are communicating something other than what it seems you intended to.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to David Ryan says:

                I think the dress or a cigar would have been more effective. The cigar, actually, would have appropriately drawn attention to Bill, since there was a lot of conversation about his predilections when that tidbit came out. A picture of Monica makes everyone think of Monica.Report

              • David Ryan in reply to David Ryan says:

                Naw. Post facto the idea of using a cigar is clever, but it wouldn’t have read.

                Did some photo research; the images available of the Famous Blue Dress aren’t very good. Great concept, but poor resources.

                I’m back to an image an iconic image of Ms. Lewinsky.Report

              • zic in reply to David Ryan says:

                You could have visually communicated your point any numbers of ways. If it’s truthiness, GWB standing under the “Mission Accomplished” banner would have done it. The image of the Clinton’s on national TV talking about his infidelity during his first presidential campaign would have done it; and in some ways done it better, because it reveals her complicity in his perfidy.

                Your visual communication worked; but in working, it’s part and parcel what you were decrying. When you want to communicate visually, you know that how the image is understood is beyond your control. If you’re linking the lies of Clinton to the place we’re at today; basically laying the blame for Bush winning office on him, and you offer up a picture of Lewinsky, you are also laying the blame at her, the temptress.

                We women are generally blamed for sexual impropriety, not our sexual partners. Look at the comments on Hanna Rosin’s hook-up culture piece in the latest Atlantic; hundreds upon hundreds of voices calling these women slut; with not much condemnation of the men with whom they’re hooking up. At the GOP platform on abortion in the case of rape; even women who’ve been violated must bear the responsibility.

                I understand what you meant; I don’t think you realize what you really said as you pull back the layers of the onion of communication. And that failure is part and parcel of your topic; not being aware of the recklessness of your actions.

                It’s also very ‘thoughtless’ misogyny. Because you didn’t even consider Lewinsky as anything but the temptress, a symbol of what derailed Bill and gave us Bush.Report

              • David Ryan in reply to David Ryan says:

                If you’re read is that I’m suggesting world financial market imploded because poor Bill Clinton, stressed as he was under the strain of the presidency, was powerless to resist Lewinsky, the raven haired temptress, then I’m not going to stop you. Run with it!Report

              • Kazzy in reply to David Ryan says:

                So you’re response to a woman saying that a reasonable interpretation of your post and the accompanying picture is misogynistic is, what, exactly? “Your fault, not mine?” “Don’t care!”


              • David Ryan in reply to David Ryan says:

                It’s a post relating Paul Ryan’s marathon lies to Bill Clinton’s reckless affair with (seduction of?) Monica Lewisky illustrated with a picture of Ms. Lewisnky, a video of Candidate and Mrs Clinton prevaricating about his earlier indiscretions, and a video of him telling a bald face lie about his relationship with Lewinsky. Oh wait. They didn’t fish. He only spooged all over her dress. I guess he wasn’t lying. (P.S. if you watch is “Apology” he never apologizes for lying to us, only for being “legally truthful but misleading in his GJ testimony)

                Do I think that, as a woman, zic has some special standing to question the way I illustrated this post? No I do not. If her being a woman gives her some special standing (sounds like that James Poulos post that got people so riled up) I don’t think she’s put any particular insight on display. She comes across to me as an incurious, simple-minded, easily aggrieved Democratic partisan. The internet is filled with people like this of all political bent. Their opinions don’t vex me.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to David Ryan says:

                Whose opinion does vex you? Your apparent reflexive defensiveness seems to leave little room for real discussion.

                Are you willing to consider that your post and accompanying picture may be communicating a different message than you intended, a message which some might find offensive?Report

              • Glyph in reply to David Ryan says:

                Kazzy, I am on a virtual keyboard rt now so it’s not easy to copy/paste, but I suggest re-reading zic’s comments for clues as to why David might be responding ‘reflexively defensively’ – there are quite a few sentences and phrases that skirt pretty close to ad-hom, even though zic understands, and David confirms, that Lewinsky herself was not the point of his post, so any offense was likely unintended/ inferred.

                If this is the case, calling David ‘selfish’, thoughtless and misogynistic, and attempting to ‘shame’ him results, predictably IMO, in defensiveness rather than dialogue. Just my .02.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to David Ryan says:


                I’m getting a bit tired of folks around here hiding behind the, “I didn’t like the way in which you framed your objection so I will completely ignore or dismiss your objection.”

                Zic, it seems, is new to these parts, and I think should be given a bit of leeway in learning the general culture here, ideally with some guidance. I think her objections stand, regardless of the language used, and deserve attention. Even if David opts not to engage with her, he should still remain open to the substance of her objections and willing to be reflective about the disconnect that might exist between the intent of his post and the impact of it.

                For the record, this is what I’m talking about when I feel that “Gentlemanliness” is used as a tool to further entrench power and to further exclude already underrepresented groups.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to David Ryan says:

                Also, my first point there, is not aimed at you, Glyph.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to David Ryan says:

                Zic is not new to these parts, sadly, she doesn’t show up often enough.

                Hey, Zic. Miss ya.Report

              • Glyph in reply to David Ryan says:

                Is it ‘hiding’, or just common sense, to avoid deep engagement with an interlocutor who seems to start in with name-calling right off the bat?

                I don’t think of it as League culture, so much as garden-variety courtesy, to avoid calling people names or making unpleasant inferences about them, if I’d like them to respond to me and my point.

                Disagree with his argument all you want, but IMO it’s a little unfair to take something David never said (“basically, this whole mess is Monica’s fault!!!”), go to code red on that, then be surprised/offended when he says that wasn’t his point, and refuses to go down the other road you’ve picked out for him.

                Smacks a bit of ‘So, when’d you stop beating yr wife?’, to me.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to David Ryan says:

                @Kazzy “Even if David opts not to engage with her, he should still remain open to the substance of her objections and willing to be reflective about the disconnect that might exist between the intent of his post and the impact of it.”


                Her objection seemed to be that David blamed both Bush’s failures and Clinton’s dishonesty on Lewinski – unless I’m missing something? (Possible, as always.)

                I actually went back and reread the post after I read her objections, and I have to confess I’m a little confused as to where those interpretations are coming from. Again, apologies to zic if I am misreading her, but she seems to be arguing with someone other than David.

                I’m a big believer in a writer clarifying their intention if it’s been read in a way not intended, but in this case I am really scratching my head as to how this post was read that way at all.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to David Ryan says:

                I have not seen David engage the criticism that his use of the Lewinsky photo was misogynistic. This is not the first time that David has shied away from a similar criticism. Given all the conversation here lately about the make-up of our community, I think it would have been prudent for him to respond to this criticism head on.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to David Ryan says:

                But if he did and I somehow missed it (again, I’m talking specifically about a direct response to the misogyny claim), I withdraw my objection and apologize.Report

              • Glyph in reply to David Ryan says:

                If David had used a pic of Ollie North to call to mind Iran-Contra, would that have been misandry, given that North was just the public ‘face’, and not the only wrongdoer, in that scandal?

                Would the response that using Reagan’s pic would not be sufficient for most to quickly ID the situation under discussion, be sufficient defense against a charge of misandry?

                Ironically, given what we are talking about, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to David Ryan says:

                I’d prefer that David and Zic hammer this out.Report

              • Glyph in reply to David Ryan says:

                Er, OK. So why’d you jump in then? I assumed this was an open discussion. Are you moderating, or is this your post? I was responding to you, not either of them, directly.

                Anyway, I’ve think I ‘ve said what I have to say (with the Internet caveat that one always reserves the right to later say ‘and another thing!’), but for someone who’s concerned about dialogue being shut down, this seems an odd approach, Kazzy.

                Catch y’all later.Report

              • zic in reply to David Ryan says:

                The summation of your post, with a bit snipped out:
                “He disgraced himself, not just for the affair, but for having been so stupid. Al Gore, running a campaign forced to distance itself from his discredited administration, lost the 2000 election by the barest margin, and the rest, as they say, is history.

                But our nation has paid a terrible price for his defects and her complicity.”

                The implications of this are 1) we’re in the mess we’re in because Gore lost, 2) Gore lost because of the Lewinsky business (as implied by the photo), and 3) it’s all because of careless lies and the hubris of boys beefing up their conquests, (fishing, sports, etc., another gender stereotype that I’d also challenge.)

                I’m pretty happy to have anyone go after politicians being untruthful to the public. My beef here is that things are just not this simple, Gore lost for many complex reasons, including politicking by Republicans that hounded him for things like his affair with Lewinsky; and that the price we’ve paid — the sad state of unemployment/underwater mortgages/a press that covers the horse race instead of public policy/a war and defense budget that’s brushed under the rug/Congress that refuses to solve problems — also stem from complex things beyond the stereotype of boyish lying to make yourself seem bigger then you really are.

                I really don’t care of Ryan lied about his Marathon. He deceived his convention audience about his role in Simpson-Bowles. He mislead about Medicare. What about the fibs of Weapons of Mass Destruction? Is there a difference between hiding an affair, between fibbing about a race time, and misleading the electorate about important public policy? I find it offensive and distasteful that Lewinsky was used to make the minor fibbing the important lie; it trivializes the misdirection of our politics at her expense. At my expense.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to David Ryan says:


                Please allow me to clarify…

                First and foremost, I think all conversations here are open and public. If folks want private or exclusive conversations, that what email or other private, exclusive means of communication are for.

                I said what I said for two reasons: while I think that I understand Zic’s objection, I’m not sure that I fully do nor am I sure I understand it. I would be a poor advocate for her position. With this in mind, it’d be my preference, though not my requirement, that they be the two to hammer it out. If others want to jump in, by all means, please do. I don’t have much to add to that particular conversation (is it or is it not misogyny?) and would rather not say more than I already have.

                What I will do is be an advocate and an ally for Zic (if she is interested in having that). I felt that her argument and she as an individual were too quickly and easily dismissed, which I thought unfair, especially since some of this dismissal was couched in criticism of her tact or lack of “gentlemanliness”. I won’t necessarily defend the route she took, but I think we should be more open to bumps in that particular road if it leads to more and varied perspectives.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to David Ryan says:

                The master sophist
                and the skilled propagandist
                wink over martinis.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to David Ryan says:

                Hey, Zic.

                One of the things that needs to be pointed out is how the Monica Lewinsky thing didn’t happen in the vacuum either. I came of age during the whole Clarence Thomas hearings that spent a huge amount of time on issues regarding sexual harassment. In 1992-1993, I took my first Women’s Studies course (it was a heady time). Then we had, yes, the Paula Jones thing.

                What made Monica important wasn’t whether the POTUS should be allowed to let off a little steam every now and again but with regards to the whole “Paula Jones accused Bill Clinton of the following…” thing as part of her lawsuit. One of the big deals with regards to that lawsuit was the question of whether Clinton could reasonably be said to have a pattern of this behavior.

                Now, we can seriously have a conversation about whether Monica Lewinsky provides an example of a pattern on Bill’s part or whether what they did was *COMPLETELY* different from what Paula Jones accused Bill Clinton of doing (I’m open to the argument that Monica initiated everything, sure).

                But Monica makes the most sense when viewed through the lens of Paula Jones. Paula Jones makes the most sense when viewed through the lens of Clarence Thomas.

                (Hell, we could probably go back and find more lenses and keep going back for a long time… but I came of age during the Thomas hearings and don’t really have first person experience of political anything prior to that.)Report

              • Kazzy in reply to David Ryan says:

                “The master sophist
                and the skilled propagandist
                wink over martinis.”

                Who are you accusing of being what, Tom?Report

              • zic in reply to David Ryan says:

                JayBird, you’re pretty much setting the scene properly. There were welfare queens, too.

                You’ve left out the Ken Starr Whitewater witch hunt; so it’s not just gender role stuff, it’s destroy the president at any cost, similar to today.

                And perhaps the biggest oversight is Feminazi, spoken of the First Lady on the airwaves nearly every day, with almost no push-back or correction from the Responsible Big Daddy figures in the room.Report

              • Glyph in reply to David Ryan says:

                Not sure if I am a sophist, or a propagandist; but I sure am thirsty, and could use one of the aforementioned martinis. Who’s holding?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to David Ryan says:

                Well, the whole “feminazi” thing sort of withered away after Paula Jones came to light. While there were a number of mealy mouthed statements of support for Paula Jones, there were a number of… other… things said. Things that, I imagine, had they been said about Anita Hill a few years earlier would have resulted in explosions that, instead, resulted in “well, I don’t condone the language used…” or similar. You’ll notice that by the end of Clinton’s presidency, the term had pretty much gone away.

                As for Ken Starr, the special prosecutor is something that I wish they’d bring *BACK*. We should have someone like that in place to root out corruption on the part of officials in power. Whitewater did, indeed, not have any exceptional corruption associated with it (nothing beyond acceptable limits for people with that level of connections)… but the Paula Jones thing, once it surfaced, fell under the umbrella of stuff special prosecutors were allowed to investigate.

                It’s difficult for me to say that it shouldn’t have been.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to David Ryan says:


                I’ll wink at you over martinis any day.Report

              • Glyph in reply to David Ryan says:

                Kazzy – I appreciate the offer, but from the looks of that gravatar, we are definitely getting carded.Report

              • David Ryan in reply to David Ryan says:


                Your version:

                He disgraced himself, not just for the affair, but for having been so stupid. Al Gore, running a campaign forced to distance itself from his discredited administration, lost the 2000 election by the barest margin, and the rest, as they say, is history.

                But our nation has paid a terrible price for his defects and her complicity.

                The passage, unabridged:

                He provided (Hilary’s words) “the vast right-wing conspiracy” with the ammunition they needed, and his presidency and the nation was dragged down in the ensuing morass. He disgraced himself, not just for the affair, but for having been so stupid. Al Gore, running a campaign forced to distance itself from his discredited administration, lost the 2000 election by the barest margin, and the rest, as they say, is history.

                Bill Clinton’s political calculus, was, (apparently) correct.

                Today he is an esteemed elder statement of the Democratic Party, and is now praised by his former enemies as moderate and wise steward of the nation. His wife ran for the Senate and won, now serves as the Secretary of State, and (should Barrack Obama win in November) is the (nearly) presumptive presidential nominee of her party in 2016.

                In short, Bill and Hilary Clinton have survived, thrived in fact.

                But our nation has paid a terrible price for his defects and her complicity.

                You’ve omitted a grammatically important sentence from the passage your “quote”, and in a way that makes it seem like the “her” in the ultimate sentence refers to Ms. Lewinsky, when it clearly refers to Hilary Clinton.

                I don’t know why you would post such an obviously deceptive edit, and on the very page where the original text appears.Report

              • zic in reply to David Ryan says:

                This induced a deep belly laugh. How can it be a selective edit, when I’m telling you up front that I’m editing; that these are the things I’m responding to?

                Perhaps I edited out the part about the vast right-wing conspiracy because I agree with Hillary Rodham Clinton; there was (and still is, in my humble view) a vast right-wing conspiracy; an ongoing concerted attempt to destroy Democratic presidents with complete disregard for the nation’s welfare, combined with a refusal to hold Republican politicians responsible for their policy choices, and the problems they create. This results in our current president, who’s to the right or Reagan on some things, but center right on most, being called a left-wing socialist muslim kenyan menace. Give me a break; he’s not a liberal, and the vast right-wing conspiracy is still out to destroy him.

                I don’t believe Clinton’s complicity with his perfidy responsible, I believe that she’s right, there is a conspiracy, and it’s that very conspiracy cost our nation a great price. In that light, then perhaps Lewinsky was also a victim of that conspiracy; and that using her face to provoke constitutes re-victimization; sort of like what happens to women in the court system after they’ve been raped or physically abused; quite possibly what happened to Paula Jones in the court system.

                I’ll celebrate those choices that I view as good by Republican politicians; Nixon signed the Clean Air and Water Acts and created the EPA; GHWB’s withdrawal from Kuwait/Iraq, his son’s AIDS programs in Africa and attempts to reform immigration spring to mind as highlights.

                Reagan, I’ll condemn with all my heart, but I lost a brother to AIDS, and Reagan and Koop should burn in hell for not informing and educating the public early on.

                But that’s the point: these are what government does, what politicians should pay attention to, for these things have impact on real human lives. Lewinsky? She, Bill, and Hillary. Clinton was impeached because he lied about having an affair. GWB was not impeached for lying about WMD. Do you see the difference, and why using her picture this way might be, from the perspective of a bra-burning feminist, be a problem?Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to zic says:

                Dude, let me buy you a new bra. 21st century, gentlemen do that for each other.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to zic says:


              • Jaybird in reply to zic says:

                Tom. Be nice. Zic is someone whose voice improves the site.

                Clinton was impeached because he lied about having an affair. GWB was not impeached for lying about WMD.

                Zic, please understand that, from my perspective (raised by women, took womens’ studies after Anita Hill but before Paula Jones) that Clinton was impeached because he lied, under oath, about having a history of predating underlings. I submit to you: had he gotten the same favor from one of the legion of trophy wives on the Hill or even one of the high class escorts that you’d think they’d keep around for such a contingency, he’d not have had the relationship seen as half as interesting (exhibit A: Bob Livingston).

                Personally, I think that Bush should have gotten impeached over signing statements… but the WMD would have given an interesting impeachment trial as well. Why didn’t this happen? Heck, why wasn’t there an investigation during the last two years of the term? I submit to you: it was achievable. There were enough folks out there sick of war, sick of Iraq, and sick of “grim milestones” that this could have gotten off of the ground had there been a sufficiently large stink made.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to zic says:

                I’m going to be favorable and chalk that up to Tom not knowing that Zic is female. Hopefully he does something useful with this information.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to zic says:

                JB, I am being nice. I’ll buy anybody a bra or a cigar or a brandy regardless of.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to zic says:

                Yes, well, the site lacks people of gender and certain references might wish to be avoided even if others brought them up in the first place.

                Ends in themselves, not a means only. All that stuff.

                I like Zic. I would like her to stick around without feeling more than the usual amount of hostility.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to zic says:

                “Yes, well, the site lacks people of gender…”

                No it doesn’t. We all have gender. We just have a lot of a particular type of gender.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to zic says:

                “The site lacks people of gender.” And long may it wave.Report

  9. Shelley says:

    What is the best strategy for fighting back against a liar?

    Because just telling the truth doesn’t seem to work.Report

    • BlaiseP in reply to Shelley says:

      A competent interrogator provokes the liar to continue to lie.

      More can be learned from a lie than the truth. A good lie must always contain some nugget of truth. The difference between what can be proven (in the case of Paul Ryan, the date and elapsed time of his marathon weren’t within his control) and the prevarication points to something more important than a mere lie: there’s motivation.

      Lies are horribly informative, far more informative than the mere truth. True stories are always riddled with little inconsistencies. They’re not easily remembered over the passage of a significant period of time.

      The most dangerous lies are the ones we seem to get away with at the time. People forget the truth but they remember a lie, preferentially to the truth itself. Most of life is developing coping strategy. It’s not difficult to cope in the world of truth but the truth isn’t usually sufficient. Even honest people foreshorten and edit their own stories: we can’t help it. We form frameworks, not delusions precisely, but working constructs, rather like the wire frames of a modelling tool.

      “The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth” is a silly phrase. Liars rely on us to prefer the consistent lie to the vague and half-remembered truth. But if you want the truth, keep ’em talking. They’ll trip themselves up sooner than you might think.Report

    • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Shelley says:

      The “gentleman’s” Godwin corollary: First to use “lie” or “liar” just lost. The one who holds his or her water the longest is the winner.Report

  10. Stillwater says:

    For some reason, Ryan’s lying about marathon running reminds me of Vanilla Ice on the old Arsenio show. When he was challenged on a few causal lies he’d made in the past, ones designed to give him street cred in a predominantly inner-city black genre, he doubled down rather than just admit that those claims were stretchers. It ruined him, but it didn’t have to, since everyone either already knew they were lies or didn’t care if/that they were.

    The reason I find Ryan’s behavior so irritating is that there’s no good reason for it. It’s not instrumental to maintaining a public image (voters could care less what time he ran); it’s not an effort to deny morally questionable behavior that would be damaging if it were admitted to (like the Lewinsky affair); it’s not in the service of protecting his own power or the power and interests of others. In fact, it serves no purpose at all other than distorting how people perceive Paul Ryan, and how Paul Ryan views himself. And that’s weird.Report

    • NewDealer in reply to Stillwater says:

      “It’s not instrumental to maintaining a public image (voters could care less what time he ran)”

      Perhaps it is. A reader to Andrew Sullivan’s blog wrote in with a theory of Ryan. Basically almost everyone can agree that Ryan has the look of a nice, small-town, midwestern boy. Perpetually boyish and good-looking in a non-threatening way, always seeming earnest and sincere. He is very good at using his image to hide the radicalness of his proposals and vision for society. The reader theorized that there are a lot of people who respond so positively to Ryan’s boyishness that they get defensive for him when he is challenged on his policies. A sort of “But Paul Ryan looks like the nice boy down the street, how dare people say these horrible things about him.”

      Perhaps Ryan’s knows this and wants to troll the left into calling him out for lies, misinformation, and actual information on his policies. Perhaps Ryan knows that there are enough voters who will be defensive for him that such lies are beneficial. Especially the voters are a bit Republican leaning but not complete Partisans. “How dare those outsider lefties accuse Ryan of a misdeed!”

      I think partisanship and tribalism go for explaining a lot.Report

    • clawback in reply to Stillwater says:

      It’s not instrumental to maintaining a public image (voters could care less what time he ran)

      In the Randian world he inhabits certainly his time would be critical. For these people, it’s not enough to just run a marathon; he has to do it faster than the moochers and looters.

      And as someone currently training for a marathon, I can attest there’s just no way one would misplace an hour. You spend far too much time training to lose track of such an important statistic. You don’t get to a marathon distance without fully internalizing the implications of the times involved. This isn’t like, say, forgetting your best bowling score.Report

  11. DensityDuck says:

    So everone’s just kind of ignoring the fact that Ryan issued an apology the next morning?

    PS as other people have pointed out, if “57 states” didn’t mean anything then neither does this.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to DensityDuck says:


      Do you have a link to the apology?Report

      • DensityDuck in reply to Kazzy says:


        Which David Ryan posted before I did, actually.

        Although people looking for “IM A DIRTY LIAR AND I HENCEFORTH WOTHDRAW ANY AND ALL ATTEMPTS TO RUN OR PUBLIC OFFICE” will be disappointed.Report

        • Kazzy in reply to DensityDuck says:

          Thanks. That pretty much shuts the door for me.Report

        • NoPublic in reply to DensityDuck says:

          Do you have a link to the apology?

          (Because what was quoted there wasn’t even a non-pology. It was a lame “heh heh” about the whole thing)Report

          • DensityDuck in reply to NoPublic says:

            As I said, people looking for “IM A DIRTY LIAR AND I HENCEFORTH WOTHDRAW ANY AND ALL ATTEMPTS TO RUN OR PUBLIC OFFICE” will be disappointed.Report

            • NoPublic in reply to DensityDuck says:

              Or, in fact, anyone looking for the simple words “I’m sorry” which generally constitute an apology in the English language (when not followed by “if anyone was offended” in a non-pology fashion).

              He didn’t apologize, he laughed it off. If he’d apologized, even with reference to “wishful thinking” or “youthful indiscretion” that’d be a different thing.Report

              • MikeSchilling in reply to NoPublic says:

                “Congressman Ryan, you’re aware that 4:01 is a pretty mediocre time.”

                “Yeah, I was well at the back of the pack. I just misspoke when I said 3 hours instead of 4.”

                “Why, then, did you think Mr. Hewitt was so impressed?”

                “Oh, I thought he was just sucking up like the rest of them do, now that I’m part of the ticket. If I said “nine inches”, they’d swear it was ten. Ironic that it was an honest reaction, for once.”Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to NoPublic says:

                He laughed it off because unlike the people here who have some weird Clinton conspiracy theory he didn’t think it was that big of a deal.

                Like I said. This is “57 states”, and that’s not seen as anything more than a punchline.Report

  12. Mike Schilling says:

    Since no one else has mentioned it, I’ll compliment David on the dual meaning of “marathon liar”.Report

  13. MFarmer says:

    Dadburnit that Lyin Ryan is a scoundrel to be dealt with, I tell ya. The lyin rascal fibbed about a marathon 20 years ago, and, durnit, he knows he ain’t that fast. This rapscallion is not suited for our political system, no sir — the virtuous men and women in congress deserve better!Report

  14. DRS says:

    I believe the lies that really irritate people are what might be called “vanity lies” – the ones people tell that enhance the image of themselves they like to project to the world, a kind of self-spin for no real objective reason. Politicians aren’t the only ones who do this; in my experience employers and bosses seem to be drawn to them too. It also helps that these vanity lies are told to audiences who can be assumed to take them in uncritically. The result is an audience that thinks: “How dumb does he/she think I am that I’m going to believe that?”

    Disagreement or skepticism usually results in a doubling down on the original claim; after all, it’s not just the basic fact that is being challenged but the liar’s inner self. At this point other people start to pay attention to the claim and start thinking that it seems such a silly thing to get all worked up about, just say you made a mistake already and get past it, geez. From there it’s only a step to: what a loser.Report

    • DRS in reply to DRS says:

      It also helps that these vanity lies are told to audiences who can be assumed to take them in uncritically.

      Actually, I’ll go further and say that the point of the vanity lie is to use it in front of an audience who is expected to swallow it whole. Either in a political speech or pre-staff-meeting chatter, the audience is expected to give back approval or at the least acceptance. It’s as if a fragile ego is taking the acceptance/approval as proof that the vanity lie is actuallly true.Report

  15. scott says:

    I guess it makes me a bad person if I don’t care whether Clinton lied about sex or whether Ryan lied about his running times. We elect politicians in the same way we hire other people – to do jobs for which they get paid. I have plenty of beefs with Clinton on how he did his job and how Ryan is doing his, but not about that other stuff.Report

    • David Ryan in reply to scott says:

      You’re not a bad person if you don’t care about Clinton’s lying about sex, or Ryan’s lying about running.

      You are somewhat thick-headed if you think that’s what this post is about.Report

  16. joey jo jo says:

    related to the “do people care?” about misrepresenting marathon times, this article is instructive: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/08/06/120806fa_fact_singer?currentPage=all
    the running community certainly does.Report