Clint Eastwood's ramble at an empty chair during the GOP Convention last week stayed with me, but not for the original reasons. Yes, it is always unfortunate when a old white guy situates a man of color, our president, no less as being invisible. Ralph Ellison has that covered.
“I was pulled this way and that for longer than I can remember. And my problem was that I always tried to go in everyone's way but my own. I have also been called one thing and then another while no one really wished to hear what I called myself. So after years of trying to adopt the opinions of others I finally rebelled. I am an invisible man.”
But the idea of the chair being empty got me thinking about Paul Ryan who shared that stage with Eastwood. Paul Krugman in yesterday's NYT writes this about Ryan:
And these days Paul Ryan is the Rosie Ruiz of American politics.
This would have been an apt comparison even before the curious story of Mr. Ryan’s own marathon came to light. Still, that’s quite a story, so let’s talk about it first.
It started when Hugh Hewitt, a right-wing talk-radio host, interviewed Mr. Ryan. In that interview, the vice-presidential candidate boasted about his fitness, declaring that he had once run a marathon in less than three hours.
This claim piqued the interest of Runner’s World magazine, which noted that marathon times are recorded — and that it was unable to find any evidence of Mr. Ryan’s accomplishment. It eventually transpired that Mr. Ryan had indeed once run a marathon, but that his time was actually more than four hours.
In a statement issued by a spokesman, Mr. Ryan tried to laugh the whole thing off as a simple error. But serious runners find that implausible: the difference between sub-three and over-four is the difference between extraordinary and perfectly ordinary, and it’s not something a runner could get wrong, unless he’s a fabulist who imagines his own reality. And does suggesting that Mr. Ryan is delusional rather than dishonest actually make the situation any better?
Which brings us back to the real issues of this presidential campaign.
Obviously nobody cares how fast Mr. Ryan can run, and even his strange marathon misstatement wouldn’t be worth talking about in isolation. What makes this incident so striking is, instead, the way it resonates with the essential Rosie-Ruizness of Mr. Ryan’s whole political persona, which is built around big boasts about accomplishments he hasn’t accomplished.
This led me to create the collage below as I wondered just what does Paul Ryan have to boast about? What is it that he has done? Surely that debacle of a budget he proposed that would harm the already down and out can't be considered a credit?
Just ask the nuns on the bus. They'll give it to you straight.
|The Real Empty Chair (Collage Journal, 9.2.12 by M.A. Reilly)|