Ryan’s Scariest Lie

I know sub-three hour marathoners, I am friends with sub-three hour marathoners, and I have run a sub-three hour marathon.  Paul Ryan, you are no sub-three hour marathoner.

To many, Paul Ryan’s marathon lie is probably the most innocuous one he told in the last couple of weeks.  That one about the Janesville auto plant seems worse.  The one about Obama rejecting the bipartisan debt commission’s recommendations worse yet.  And so on.  So why is his lie about running a sub-3 marathon so creepy?

First, in case it is not clear.  It is a LIE, not a slip of the tongue or a misremembered fact.  To the interviewer who asked him what his personal record in the marathon was, Ryan answered:  “Under three, high twos. I had a two hour and fifty-something.” In three different ways, Ryan said that he ran 26.2 miles in under three hours!  When caught red-footed by Runner’s World, Ryan’s lame response was: “The race was more than 20 years ago, but my brother Tobin—who ran Boston last year—reminds me that he is the owner of the fastest marathon in the family and has never himself ran a sub-three. If I were to do any rounding, it would certainly be to four hours, not three. He gave me a good ribbing over this at dinner tonight.”  Instead, Ryan should have said, “I know.  That was a complete and bald-faced lie.  I apologize.  I guess I thought I could get away with it, like I do so many other things.  Have you noticed that my hair is very thick?”

Now that that’s settled, why is the lie so disturbing?  Because it was so utterly unnecessary.  Only runner geeks like me and my friends (and Elliot Spitzer, whose marathon p.r. is apparently faster than Ryan’s but slower than mine!) care about marathon times.  The country as a whole would not be terribly impressed with what is a big deal (and it really is, and Ryan knew it; see above about the LIE) in our small and semi-masochistic circles.  So why lie?  Why try to claim, simply by saying it, what others claim solely after mingling their given talent with intense training, and then pulling it all together on race day?  The casualness, the pettiness, the nonchalance of the lie is what smacks of pathology.  Why not lie?  That’s Ryan’s default position.  Lie, and then backtrack a bit and move on.  Have you noticed that his hair is very thick?

But it’s not funny.  If the guy gets in office, the lies will be even thicker.

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5 Responses to Ryan’s Scariest Lie

  1. Buzz says:

    Politicians lie frequently … I grudgingly accept that. I also couldn’t care less about who they’re having sex with. But lying about your Marathon time … this somehow crosses a line for many of us … that just isn’t done. Ever. Like you say, crossing that line indicates he’s over the edge, doesn’t even know there is a line to cross, and cannot be trusted about anything.

  2. David Eason says:

    The lies of Ryan and others of his ilk fit a pattern of narcissism. Others lie from shame or to protect themselves or those close to them. The Ryans of the world lie to gain attention and promote themselves as ideal, worthy of emulation. This can be compulsive or calculated. It is hard to tell with Ryan’s “sub-three” lie. One is tempted to say compulsive, because it was so easily found out. But I think it was calculated, at least conscious. Ryan has for years been supported and promoted by the privileged, people whose entire MO is built around lies and deception — and who cannot possibly tell the truth, even about the most mundane aspects of their lives. Ryan is a reflection of his patrons, and he reflects upon them. Lies, all lies.

    • Sarah Krakoff says:

      Nicely put. To shore up your point, Nixon lied to everyone in order to save his skin. His lies were repugnant and nearly tore apart our democracy, but they were not casual and narcissistic, as you put it. They were about something. I am not in the Nixon-rehabilitation camp, but there is something at least familiar about lying to achieve your nefarious ends as opposed to lying as a way of life.

  3. What also bothers me is the fact that he made it up so spontaneously. At least I think he did; I don’t know, perhaps he was planning on getting asked about this. But his brain made a quick decision to lie, kind of reminding me of Jon Lovitz on SNL. “Yeah, and I did it when I had a cold too! And … and … it was snowing!” Absolutely terrifying.

    • Sarah Krakoff says:

      Yes! It’s a worrisome combination of the default tendency to lie with the ability to fabricate spontaneously. Too bad he isn’t just a character on SNL.

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