September 3, 2012 1 Comment
Paul Ryan lying so egregiously about his marathon time is not some simple mis-statement or mis-remembering, or liberals just obsessing over some triviality, it’s the sign of somebody who thinks they can tell big lies and get away with it (which he’s long been able to do about the budget).
Look, I’ve never run a marathon, but all you have to do is know anybody who runs marathons to know that people don’t forget their times. Likewise, I’m only the most casual of runners– I’ve run exactly one official race 20 years ago, but I know that a sub 3 hour marathon is awesome. You don’t just “accidentally” suggest you’ve done this. Do you remember your SAT or LSAT score? If not, I guarantee you you don’t mis-remember it by 400 points on your SAT– which is probably the rough equivalent of Paul Ryan on the marathon. People who scored 1020 don’t forget that they were in the 1000-range and tell people they got 1400 (unless, of course, they are bald-faced liars).
The full transcript of Ryan’s conversation on the matter shows him to just be a braggard and a liar. If you told someone you got 1400 on the SAT, but you mis-spoke or mis-remembered, as soon as they said “holy smokes” in a tone of awe, you would say, “whoops, I mis-remembered, I meant 1020.” You wouldn’t say, “well, I used to be really smart.” Yet, this is basically exactly what Ryan did.
Here’s a thorough deconstruction from Nicholas Thompson:
But in another way it is important: Is the potential Vice President the sort of person who lies congenitally? In that sense it matters.
Here’s the transcript of what Ryan said to Hewitt:
H. H.: Are you still running?
P. R.: Yeah, I hurt a disc in my back, so I don’t run marathons anymore. I just run ten miles or [less].
H. H.: But you did run marathons at some point?
P. R.: Yeah, but I can’t do it anymore, because my back is just not that great.
H. H.: I’ve just gotta ask, what’s your personal best?
P. R.: Under three, high twos. I had a two hour and fifty-something.
H. H.: Holy smokes. All right, now you go down to Miami University…
P. R.: I was fast when I was younger, yeah.
What’s striking about the exchange is how he responds to Hewitt’s “Holy smokes.” A four-hour marathon, for a twenty-year-old, is not something that elicits a “holy smokes.” It’s entirely average; in fact, for the race that Ryan ran, it was below average. In the marathon in question, he finished in nineteen hundred and ninetieth place, out of just thirty-two hundred and seventy-seven male runners. (A 2:55 would have had him at a hundred and thirtieth.) But Hewitt’s reaction didn’t set off any alarm. Instead, Ryan could tell that he had just impressed his host, and he reinforced it, saying “I was fast when I was younger, yeah.”
Is it possible that his memory just bollixed up the time? For someone who doesn’t run, the difference between a four-hour marathon and a two-fifty-something may seem inconsequential, and easy to confuse. But for someone who does run seriously, it’s immense. To make an analogy to an activity that Ryan is unquestionably good at, it’s like the difference between doing twenty-five pushups (not bad!) and a hundred (holy smokes!).
Runners—and Ryan says he continues to be one—also just don’t forget race times. They talk about them with their friends; they think about them when running. If they’ve just missed breaking four hours, it probably bothers them a little bit. It probably bothers them particularly if their brothers run faster. People also ask about marathon times often. Note the ease with which Hewitt queried Ryan’s time. The congressman, who talks frequently about fitness, has surely been asked the same question dozens, or hundreds, of times. When did he stop answering “four hours” and start saying “a two hour and fifty-something”?
Short version: Paul Ryan is just a flat-out liar on a personal level (all politicians lie and distort to a degree, though he’s in quite a league of his there, too).