Saturday, September 01, 2012

Paul Ryan gets caught up in a lie

Millions of people have run marathons (26.2 miles). I've run five extremely undistinguished ones myself. I'm the tall one there crossing the finish line at Portland in 2000.

Runners remember their times, remember how long the race took them. Paul Ryan said in an interview that he'd run "under three, high twos. I had a two hour and fifty-something."

The idea that Paul Ryan would have forgotten his time if he'd run a marathon in under three hours seemed simply ludicrous to runners. That's a highly respectable achievement for a fit young man. Yesterday running journalists and then the New Yorker investigated and discovered that he had run a little over four hours in 1990 at Grandma's Marathon in Minnesota. That's a solid amateur effort for an under-trained young male, nothing to get excited about. Here's how Nicholas Thompson responded to Ryan's claim:

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!).

Thompson makes a pretty good case that it is likely that Ryan didn't know he was lying when he claimed he'd run 2:50. He actually did "misremember".

I'm going to go pop-psych on Ryan, with no evidence except the emerging story, and ask if this lie isn't just a symptom of the man's general mindset? -- he makes up his own reality because, after all, he's Paul Ryan, Superdude! He can make up marathon achievements that never were. He can invent budgetary visions, vistas of future prosperity lubricated by tax cuts for the rich, because after all, he visualizes these fantasy worlds. He is unbound by the pedestrian realities of the real world.

The marathon doesn't work that way. You run what the clock says -- unless you are the famous cheater Rosi Ruiz who hopped a bus to the finish line of the Boston Marathon one year. Ryan didn't ride a bus to the finish line at Grandma's -- he just made up a free ride in his head. He believes in free rides for people like him -- and the rest of us might as well not be there at all.

I don't want this guy in line to be president.

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