BY Russell Wardrop

DATE: 02 SEP 2012


Paul Ryan looks the part and acts the part. He was overawed enough at the beginning of this address to the Republican Party to be real. It’s no mean feat, the common touch: Wide-eyed and really glad to be there, an all-American boy. It eludes Mitt Romney.

Charismatic? Check; Oratory skills? Check; Rhetorical flourishes? Check.

I’m all for rhetoric, but here it clashed with reality and political fact-checkers had a field day. They reckon he lied. There were a few to choose from, but misquoting the President and laying a GM plant closure at his door when Dubya was at the helm took the cookie. Swing voters with a pulse will be warier now than when Romney introduced Ryan as “the next President of the United States.” Biden will remind them in their upcoming debate.

So… Honesty? Integrity? Authenticity? Hold on there bald eagle.

Use all means of persuasion at your disposal in podium speaking: make ‘em cry, make ‘em laugh, make ‘em mad. But don’t lie. An intellectual and an economist, Ryan and his team must have known the facts. Unlike Clint Eastwood’s extempore embarrassment, this was well-prepared. Ryan is more than the buffed-up, tub-thumping Sarah Palin, talking nonsense, and no mistress of her brief. He will have to answer at some point. Debating Biden, Ryan will say that Obama could have re-opened the car plant when he got in but chose not to.

We should not be sanctimonious as it’s easy to get carried away. Quaffing a spicy red at dinner we spout about our brilliant early career at a now privatised utility and the big job that changed life’s trajectory for the better. We forget our poor grades; the 25 free training programmes; the business degree; time off for study. All for free, in working hours, salary paid in full. We don’t crow about the pension the now privatised Leviathan keeps for us.

We remember late nights stripping nicotine-stained wallpaper in a suburban bungalow (you should have seen the garden). How smart we were to take that big risk. We don’t discuss the MIRAS* in big, stonking, double doses.

We rant, but mostly nod sagely lest we be thought unreasonable, at the students coming here and going to work instead of to lectures. We forget our parents came here from somewhere else, got a house, a council job, had their brood, put them through school and now live in a nice place.

Selective memories are boastful of success and good at bigging-up personal triumphs today’s non-triers couldn’t conceive; with a hazy grasp of the facts they lay blame at some doors rather than others. In the time it takes to do in three red and two white in the lovely garden extension- spicy sweet potato soup, corn-fed chicken on mustard mash, vanilla cheesecake with rhubarb compote- we tell ourselves it was our personal phosphorescence and hard work what done it.

The difference between our after-dinner mince and Paul Ryan’s keynote is that our words will not be founded upon, scrutinised and debated endlessly on 24 hour news channels. Sunday morning is another day, we have no fact-checkers and it’s not Come Dine With Me.

Ryan scores high for his oratory and charisma and you can add chutzpah. But how does he get to trust with an extra elephant in the room?   

*MIRAS Mortgage Interest Relief At Source. Ask your parents about it; it was terrific and one of the reasons a house is so damned expensive today.


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about the author

Russell Wardrop is our Chief Executive. If you would like to know more about this subject, drop him an email and we will be in touch.

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