Sunday, 2 September 2012

The Presidential Race At 26.2 Miles

Image from Politix
Paul Ryan may not be the first politician to stretch the truth but he may be the first to fabricate his athletic achievement.

An interview last week between Ryan and Hugh Hewitt contained the following dialogue:

* * *
HH: Are you still running?
PR: Yeah, I hurt a disc in my back, so I don’t run marathons anymore. I just run ten miles or yes.
HH: But you did run marathons at some point?
PR: Yeah, but I can’t do it anymore, because my back is just not that great.
HH: I’ve just gotta ask, what’s your personal best?
PR: Under three, high twos. I had a two hour and fifty-something.

* * *

Much to the Republican Party’s dismay, those darn fact checkers revealed that Ryan’s best time in any marathon was over four hours. As Nicholas Thompson put it: “That’s the difference between running and racing.” Ryan recently recanted; the spin, of course, was that this all occurred some ten years ago and his memory was naturally fuzzy.

Anyone who has seriously run competitively, let alone run marathons, knows this explanation to be as shaky on the facts as the original assertion. The best times of any serious runner—like the best scores of any golfer—are firmly etched in one’s psyche. While I sometimes have trouble with my children’s names, I can remember my best high school hurdle times achieved more than 45 years ago. (Sigh!)

Can you imagine a golfer claiming to have shot in the low 70s when he had never broken 90?

It’s one thing to tell half-truths about Medicare, the country’s credit rating, or the closing of an auto plant; rabid supporters will never know the difference—or care even. But let’s draw the line at PERs, performance enhancing rhetoric.

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