Thursday, August 30, 2012

Paul Ryan's speech marred by inaccurate charges

Let's face it: other than Sarah Palin four years ago, how often do you remember VP speeches?

Posted By on Thu, Aug 30, 2012 at 12:10 AM

On Wednesday night, the country got its first wide-eyed look at Paul Ryan, as the Republican vice presidential nominee took to the stage to lay out criticism of President Obama's tenure in office. He said that he and Mitt Romney would solve the nation's economic problems, problems that Barack Obama has been unable to do after four years.

But his speech was marred by flat-out inaccuracies.

One example: The speech stated that the president was responsible for the country's credit rating being downgraded last summer. In fact, it was Ryan's house colleagues who were culpable).

He criticized Obama for not acccepting the Bowles-Simpson deficit-cutting plan — a plan that Ryan voted against.

Most contentious was the charge that Obama was responsible for the closing of a GM plant in Janesville, Iowa. Ryan said that Obama visited the plant during the 2008 campaign and vowed it would stay open. However, the plant closed during George W. Bush's tenure in office.

But his speech had its moments.

He brought delegates to tears when he talked about his mom, particularly how she went back to school at the age of 50 after Ryan's father passed away.

"My mom is my role model," he said.

He had humor, talking about the generation gap between him and Mitt Romney, particularly when it comes to music. Ryan said his iPod began with AC/DC and ended with Led Zeppelin. (Though his admiration for Rage Against the Machine is definitely not reciprocated by the band).

But other than Sarah Palin's four years ago, to paraphrase Chuck Todd, how often do you remember VP speeches?

The star of the night from this reporter's perspective was former NSA head and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who is breaking out of her shell in terms of becoming partisan.

Expectations were high after Rice reportedly raised the roof at a speech in front of Romney supporters at a retreat in Utah earlier this summer. And hers was probably the most mainstream speech of any of the first two days.

When Rice referred to her upbringing in Jim Crow Alabama and how she suffered painful aspects of discrimination, she said it did not prevent her from becoming Secretary of State — a comment that electrified the audience, perhaps the single biggest expression of energy in the first two days of the convention. (It also plays into the conservative notion that minorities waste too much time complaining about their circumstances.)

Of course, there are a lot of people who take issue with her performance as national security adviser and then secretary of state, including Dick Cheney).

She discussed America's leadership abroad, and took a shot at the famous line first expressed by an unnamed Obama aide in the New Yorker last year, regarding the U.S. actions working with allies to bring down Muammar Gaddafi — "leading from behind."

"We cannot be reluctant to lead, and you cannot lead from behind," she said to huge cheers.

She had one line about being more humane when it comes to immigration. The line fell completely flat. Big surprise.

After Condi's speech, which began at 9:55 p.m. before the networks went live, the GOP trotted out New Mexico Gov. Susanna Martinez, who was obviously brought out to show that the Republicans aren't as anti-Latino as it appears. Her big applause line was about how she got a gun when she was a kid.

Before the two big speakers were unveiled for prime time, the night was frankly, dull, with repeated recitations of the evening's theme: We Can Do Better.

The convention nominally "honored" Ron Paul early Tuesday night — very early.

A much-hyped five-minute film that showed a number of Tea Party types like Senators Jim DeMint and Mike Lee paying tribute to the retiring Texas representative aired almost immediately after the crowd in the half-filled arena had just sat down from the National Anthem.

Around 7:30 p.m., Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul got his time in the spotlight, receiving a hearty Ron Paul-like cheer. The loudest cheers came when he said, "As Reagan said, our freedom is never more than a generation away from extinction. If our freedom is taken, the American Dream will wither and die."

John McCain's speech focused on his alleged forte, foreign affairs and, specifically, global leadership. Like he did in a recent appearance in Tampa with Senators Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte, McCain blasted Obama for the potential $500 billion scheduled to be cut from the defense budget. Of course, Congress voted for that plan, including Sen. McCain.

The convention now moves to Thursday, where Mitt Romney gives (repeat after me) the most Important Speech of His Life.

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