Back in my college days, a fellow from my hometown went around telling people he’d been an all-state high school football player. In reality, he’d been a benchwarmer. He was a big strong kid, but you could watch him walk down the stairs and see he was no elite athlete.
People asked me about it, and I never knew what to say. We hadn’t particularly been friends in high school, but I had no wish to humiliate him. He was doing that all by himself. Oddly, most of our mutual friends were college football jocks who never believed his story for a minute.
Was it more funny or sad? I never decided. Other improbable tales followed. He eventually left school under a cloud, and I never learned how things turned out for him. Alright, I hope. We were nineteen, for heaven’s sake.
Maybe you can guess where I’m going here. Is it more laughable or embarrassing that the Republican nominee for Vice-President of the United States is a 42 year-old guy who made inflated claims about his athletic prowess in the seeming belief that nobody would know the difference?
Rep. Paul Ryan’s boast was no idle slip of the tongue. It came during an extended interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, who asked about his distance running. Here’s the transcript:
HEWITT: But you did run marathons at some point?
RYAN: Yeah, but I can’t do it anymore, because my back is just not that great.
HEWITT: I’ve just gotta ask, what’s your personal best?
RYAN: Under three, high twos. I had a two hours and fifty-something.
HEWITT: Holy smokes!…
RYAN: I was fast when I was younger, yeah.
Faced with an interlocutor who knew that he’d claimed an elite time, Ryan should have backed off immediately. Instead, he doubled-down. It wasn’t until Runner’s World documented that his actual recorded time was four hours and change, that the candidate had to admit he wasn’t so fast, but distinctly average.
It was, of course, an accidental “misstatement.” His brother was said to be teasing him about it.
I’ll bet he was.
I wonder if they also talked about their hometown GM factory whose closing was announced before President Obama’s election?