Paul Ryan has a commanding presence at the speaker’s podium, and his handsome face is mobile and expressive when he speaks. His blue eyes light up and his eyebrows raise, lower and furl for emphasis. He smiles genuinely and doesn’t smirk. The Republican National Convention was prepared to adore him last night, and it wasn’t disappointed as he delivered every bit of red meat it wanted to hear.
I listened and watched carefully, grateful for the near-constant close-ups by the cable channel to which I was tuned, because they allowed me to learn the man’s “tells.” Poker players know that term; it means the subtle, unconscious expressions or behaviors people habitually use when they are bluffing. In other words, I know when he’s lying, folks, or at least I know when he’s saying something that he does not believe is the God’s-honest truth. If he’s speaking what he believes to be the truth, his brow is clear and smooth, or his eyebrows are up near his hairline. If he’s telling a fib, this is what he looks like: eyebrows like little fuzzy caterpillars and a symmetrical set of three wavy lines beneath his Eddie Munster widow’s peak.
Re-run any section of that speech and fact-check it to prove that to yourself. I’m surprised his slacks didn’t spontaneously combust; he told so many whoppers in a row about how the president is responsible for the lowered credit rating of the U.S. (oh, really?), and how we have so many unemployed people because the president wouldn’t pay attention to giving them jobs. (But just who was responsible for obstructing the American Jobs Act in Congress?)
Now that I have performed my public service for the day, I will say that former Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, and Governor Susana Martinez gave infinitely better speeches than Paul Ryan did. Their remarks were thoughtful, inspirational, and avoided obvious stupidities. Ryan’s oration was strictly a campaign commercial.
As a political observer and decent American citizen, I’m more than appalled at the obvious insularity, ignorance and the pandering that has been on display this week in Tampa among the Republicans. Once, during one of Ryan’s most egregious statements, the camera cut away to show one of the Koch brothers laughing with a companion in the balcony – as though at some secret joke. I can just imagine!