This morning the Washington Post and NY Times editorial boards and all rational pundits are livid. It seems Paul Ryan, among others, fibbed last night at his party's convention. Repeatedly. The GOP's vice-presidential nominee fibbed about Medicare, fibbed about budgets and fibbed about plant closings, just as the GOP's presidential nominee cannot deliver (nor will he tonight) so much as the time of day without some insidious twist.
WaPo pounds Ryan for, for example, "skewer[ing] the president ... for creating and then walking away from a bipartisan debt commission" from which Ryan, too, walked away. The paper duly pounds Ryan for other factual molestations as well. The NYT similarly rebukes Ryan for twisting this issue and that, as the paper proceeds to straighten the relevant realities.
Worthy efforts, proper corrections, noble sentiments all. And utterly impotent.
Big Lies are effective for the simple reason that they avoid facts, which, on complicated issues, can be complicated things. Facts are fussy and confusing and thus often annoying. When pressing one fact against another "fact" that's designed only to deceive, you're only exasperating sedentary packs of prefrontal cortexes which are far more content with easily comprehensible simplicity: i.e., the soundbitten Big Lie. Hence attempts at slaying the Big Lie with a slew of annoying facts can be counterproductive.
Enter the Post's Jonathan Bernstein, who "gets it." After noting at midnight that virtually every element of Mr. Ryan's earlier speech was either "a staggering, staggering lie" or a "bit of mendacity – lazy mendacity, incredibly lazy mendacity," Bernstein concludes:
But really, the proper response to a speech like this isn’t to carefully analyze the logic, or to find instances of hypocrisy; it’s to call the speaker out for telling flat-out lies to the American people.
The Big Truth: Romney-Ryan are telling flat-out lies. Period. I know this sounds kind of silly, but get much deeper than that and only the disorienting weeds await you. Most of the electorate dislikes being lied to, however more than a few pundits and pols mistake that sentiment for an invitation to correct said lies with loads of facts. Wrong. Just pound the fact that the liars are lying; one can pretty much leave it at that. It's the more powerfully tactical flipside of the powerfully tactical Big Lie--more powerful because the American electorate really dislikes being lied to.