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7 Worst Media Brown-Nosers Who Enable Paul Ryan's Lies

Many pundits describe the vice-presidential nominee as an intellectual heavyweight. He's not -- but you wouldn't know it from the mainstream media reports.

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Smith argues that Ryan is not really lying, but just stretching the truth like all politicians and most people who run marathons, and that Democrats are just doing to Ryan what Republicans did to Al Gore. He admits the truth about Ryan's budget plans but ignores the fact that, as Judd Legum at Think Progress points out, Ryan is less than transparent about what he'd like to do to popular programs. “In his convention speech, Ryan was not honest about how he would 'turn Medicare into a less-expensive voucher system,'” Legum notes. “Ryan said he ' will protect and strengthen Medicare.' He didn’t admit that he plans to 'cut health care spending for poor people deeply.' Rather, Ryan said the 'truest measure of any society is how it treats those who cannot defend or care for themselves.'”

Instead of calling the lies what they are, Smith argues that they're essentially “policy differences,” that this campaign is actually more honest than most he's seen (an appeal to savviness that would impress press critic  Jay Rosen).

It would be nice if the campaign were, as Smith says, “being conducted in the daylight on the highest stakes in American government,” on taxes and who should pay them, on health care and Social Security and support for those struggling in the wake of global economic upheaval, on the real ideological differences between left and right (and more narrowly, between Democrat and Republican, Obama and Romney).

But it's not. This isn't a debate between people who believe in smaller government and people who want to maintain what's left of the New Deal. The myth of the small government conservative runs deep, and Ryan's been coasting on it for a while. But it's never been true. The people who claim to want smaller government aren't in favor of shrinking government for its own sake—they're simply opposed to the government doing things like collecting taxes on the rich and funding social programs for everyone else.

In other words, they're opposed to the government doing what governments do (except in rare cases when they want to complain about GM plants closing in their neighborhoods). It's about time the media stopped dubbing massive cuts to public services “serious” and “wonky” and started calling it what it is: a radical rethinking of the purpose of government. 

Sarah Jaffe is a staff writer at In These Times and the co-host of Dissent magazine's "Belabored" podcast. Her writings on labor, social movements, gender, media and student debt have been published in The Atlantic, The Nation, The American Prospect, AlterNet and many other publications, and she is a regular commentator for radio and television. You can follow her on Twitter: @sarahljaffe.