Monday, September 3, 2012

Paul Ryan is a liar.

Slate.com points out that Paul Ryan has been lying about his time running the marathon.  Politicians lying about their politics or their political acccomplishments is one thing.  Lying about running, however, is beyond the pale.  After all, some things are important.

19 comments:

  1. Even weirder is his attempt to explain his lie. http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2012/09/04/ryan-walks-back-exaggerated-marathon-time/

    He blames it on the passage of time and that he hurt his back. Why would a hurt back effect his memory or perception of time? Perhaps the hurt back also explains his Medicare solution.

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  2. Actually Ryan's excuse doesn't strike me as disingenuous. He syas it was 22 years ago and that he honestly thought that was his time when he was asked about. Seems like he probably deluded himself somewhere along the line--maybe he ran 10 miles at a 2:50 marathon pace and over the years morphed that into an actual 2:50 marathon. Similarly I could see someone thinking they were able to bench-press 300 pounds in college when in fact they pressed 250 six times for a "one rep max" of 300. Anyhow, "liar" seems perhaps too strong a charge for this rather trivial misstatement.

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  3. While I have lifted weights, I never really tracked what I was lifting so I can't comment on your distinction between six presses and a one-time max. I can say that someone extrapolating that they could bench 300 pounds once because they bench pressed 250 pounds six times is not a good analogy to what Congressman Ryan did or said.

    Running a marathon is not the same as running a 5K or a ten-mile run. It takes a lot of time to train to run a marathon. For example, Hal Higdon's training plans are 18 weeks. Some plans are 20 weeks and some are 16 weeks. No mater the plan, a person is dedicating more than a quarter of a year to training for the marathon. All that training makes it a memorable event when one finally finishes.

    Also, another result of all that training is that one has a pretty good idea of what pace one is going to run. One is not going to confuse running 9.25 minute miles (a slightly over 4-hour marathon:what Congressman Ryan actually ran) with running under 6.75 minute miles (an under 3-hour marathon:what he claimed). Moreover, the sense of accomplishment in completing a marathon is such that one's time is seared into one's memory. There is no morphing and certainly not the sort of morphing that cuts 25% off your time.

    Congresmman Ryan ran a marathon in slightly over 4 hours. That is a respectable time for the average runner. If you look at most marathon results, you would find that the four-hour mark is roughly where most people finish. I have only run one marathon faster than that.

    To run a marathon in under 3 hours is an incredibly difficult. More than the training I mentioned, it also takes some innate athletic ability because running sub-7 minute miles for 26 miles is terrifically hard. Most runners--even marathoners--simply cannot run that fast for that long.

    By all reports, Congressman Ryan is a work-out fiend and fitness buff. I am quite certain that he understood the difference between claiming his respectable time and claiming an incredible time. It is not a mistake that can be made unintentionally. He did not "morph" an hour off his marathon time. That simply does not happen.

    Finally, note that his explanation for how he got his time wrong, doesn't include your pace hypothetical. Instead, he says that hurting his back (at some indeterminate time after the marathon) somehow altered his memory of how long it took him to run the marathon. Is that a credible explanation? How does that make any sense?

    My view is that this is an example of the general out-of-touch nature of Washington politicians (see, e.g., Ben Nelson and ATMs). Congressman Ryan wanted to claim an incredible marathon time because it fit with his image as a work-out machine. He figured that if picked a marathon from many years ago no one would check his time. The problem was that he did not understand how easy it is for runners to check this stuff. Once he got busted he had to come up with a reason for the gigantic discrepency. He came up with one that no one familiar with running a marathon would find believable.

    I am sticking with liar.

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  4. Bart -

    As with many things, baseball provides an apt analogy. If a guy who only played high school baseball is asked about his playing days and says "I made it to the majors" he is either a) lying or b) delusional. You just don't confuse high school baseball with the majors. Ryan's excuse is especially disingenuous because to run even a 4 hour marathon will put you in touch with how hard it is to run a 3 hour marathon. It hurts and you don't forget the lesson or the basic benchmarks. From my perspective, Ryan fell in love with the story of Paul Ryan renascence man as he was being interviewed. He wanted to wow the interviewer just as a high school ball player might fudge to impress a girl...

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  5. Mr. Gillette said, "I am quite certain that he understood the difference between claiming his respectable time and claiming an incredible time. It is not a mistake that can be made unintentionally."

    Say what? The guy ran one marathon 22 years ago (when the sport of marathoning was way, way less popular than it is now) and he couldn't possibly have gotten confused about his time? Or couldn't possibly have miscalculated (or misspoke about?) whether it was around 4 or around 3 hours that he ran, given that it was so long ago and that he only ran one of them? Come on.

    I think you guys—as ardent marathoners—are reading way too much into this. You take marathons seriously. There's no indication that Paul Ryan takes marathons seriously, or ever did. He ran one. When he was 20.

    Anyhow, there are three possibilities for what happened when Ryan made his misstatement: (1) Ryan had specific knowledge of his actual marathon time and decided to cut more than an hour off of it in order to impress ... no one? (2) Ryan remembered that he ran marathons but couldn't remember his time so decided to bullshit (that is, speak without regard to truth or falsity) about it. Or, (3) Ryan honestly believed that he had run a sub-three hour marathon time because he told himself (or others) a lie some time ago and had come to believe it.

    I think options (2) and (3) are way more likely than option (1). In my book this makes Ryan likely to be a self-deluded, self-aggrandizing bullshitter. In other words, a politician.

    Speaking of lying politicians, Bill Clinton spoke last night at the Democratic National Convention. He lost his law license for lying under oath.

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  6. So Bill Clinton lied and that means Paul Ryan did not?

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  7. I guess to clear things up, I brought up Bill Clinton to (1) tease Democrats and (2) imply that the subject matter and circumstances of Paul Ryan's alleged lie are frivolous compared to the known lies of other prominent politicians.

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  8. Brendan (not anon above)September 6, 2012 at 12:42 PM

    I don't think that there is much, if any, evidence that Obama is a "self-deluded, self-aggrandizing bullshitter."

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  9. Ryan doesn't claim he misspoke so I am not sure why you offer that as a defense to his lie.

    Anything's possible. So yes, I guess it is "possible" that he somehow forgot his respectable marathon time and then substituted in a fantastic marathon time in its place. It is possible that he did this because the marathon was unimportant to him but yet then became important enough for him to remember to bring it up to a radio host twenty years later. It is also possible that this was the first time he discussed the marathon since running it. I guess it is also possible that he rembers that his time was 25% faster (and not slower) than it was. It is also possible that the moon will fall out of the sky tonight and hit the Earth. I don't believe any of those things are probable.

    My problem with your defenses is that you do not take into account the effort involved in the training. It takes a significant amount of time and that leads to making the marathon a memorable event. Also, you don't offer an explanation as to how the back injury (which Ryan says is a reason he misremembered his time) would affect his memory.

    While I think Brendan's analogy is a good one, another way of looking at it is this. I do not care about golf. It has been more than 25 years since I last golfed on a real golf course. I do not remember my score but I would not say that my score was not better than par, which I understand to be an exceptional score. Ryan "misspoke" his marathon time to be an exceptional one. His explanation is not credible.

    You are the second peson who has brought Bill Clinton up when I discuss Ryan with someone. I am not sure I understand the point of bringing Clinton even with your clarification. But on the other hand, I am not sure it matters since I am not arguing that Ryan is a worse person than Bill Clinton. Nor am I arguing that Ryan's lie is worse than Clinton's.

    That said, some people believe that a person's character is an important consideration when evaluating fitness for elected office. A lie about a trivial item seems as revealing of character as a lie about a non-trivial item.

    I am not telling people not to vote for the Romney/Ryan ticket because Paul Ryan lied about his marathon time. I am not even suggesting that people not vote for the Romney/Ryan ticket because of the incredible explanaition Ryan gives for why he lied. I just think it says something about Congressman Ryan that he felt need to lie about such a trivial thing.

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  10. Hypothetical: Paul Ryan falsely claims to have seen that movie everyone was talking about during lunch. Fit for office?

    And, for giggles, here's a blast from the past.

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  11. I have completed two marathons, 12 and 8 years ago respectively. I can still recall both races vividly. My times? 5:07 and 4:44, respectively. I am with Gillette on this one. If I concede anything it is perhaps that Ryan meant to say 3:50-something, but his explanation doesn't support my theory. Combine this "exaggeration" with some of the other "tall tales" he speaks about on the trail and you've got a classic, ahem, bullshitter.

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  12. Thanks Andrea. Having already played the Clinton card and the Biden card, I assume that Mr. Torvik's next move is to trot out Blago as his new defense of Congressman Ryan.

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  13. By the way, the notion that Ryan "blamed his back" for his forgetfulness is kind of deceptive. He says he hurt his back a long time ago so it's been a long time since he ran a marathon. Then he said, "And so obviously, my perception of races and times was off. I thought that was an ordinary time until my brother showed me a 3-hour marathon is, you know, very -- crazy fast. I ran a 4-hour marathon."

    I think it's pretty clear that he was trying to make up an "ordinary time" and just didn't know or remember enough about marathon times to do that convincingly.

    I guess the lies of Vice President Biden and Democratic Convention Keynote Speaker Bill Clinton are off the table in a discussion of this utterly frivolous misstatement by a Republican politician that is supposed to tell his something about his character? The point, obviously, is that you partisans wouldn't care about this misstatement if it had been made by a Democrat, or at least you'd be inclined to be charitable about it, and you certainly wouldn't think it a reflection of some deep character flaw that should influence anyone's vote.

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  14. Bart -
    I think Adam and to some extent the other commentators are reacting not to the fact a politician, regardless of party, fibbed but rather that a fitness buff / runner so substantially lied/misstated his time, a big ethical no-no in that community. Before the gaff, he and his people focused on his fitness and, yes, running (just not marathons) and therefore it seems fair to hold him to the runners' standard of ethics. In fact, in the interview in question, he implies that he runs ten milers regularly. If you run ten miles, there is no possible way you guess 3 hours is an "ordinary" time for a marathon. That is why his statement just pisses runners off to no end, almost regardless of politics.
    See also http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/05/opinion/pearlman-ryan-marathon/index.html

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  15. That makes sense Brendan. So hopefully you can see why non-runners find the hullaballoo so mystifying.

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  16. I don't believe that I have taken the position that Clinton's lies or Biden's lies don't matter in the general sense. Their lies do matter. They don't matter as a defense of Ryan's lie. So, to be clear-although I doubt there was really any confusion about this- The lies told by President Clinton and Vice-President Biden refelct poorly on their character.

    Regarding Mr. Torvik's fitness for office comment. I wrote that I do not believe people should decide whether to vote for the Romney/Ryan ticket.

    Given the above, I am not sure why Mr. Torvik views this through the prism of democratic/republican politics. I can assure our Reader(s)™ that if a democrat lied about their marathon time, I would point it out and call them a liar.

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  17. My second paragraph in the above comment is unclear. I should have written.

    Regarding Mr. Torvik's fitness for office comment. I wrote that I do not believe people should decide whether to vote for the Romney/Ryan ticket because Paul Ryan is a liar when it comes to his marathon time or his explanation of why he lied.

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