Paul Ryan Shakes Etch A Sketch: Now Says Is Not Blaming Obama for GM Plant’s Closing (UPDATED)

One of the most interesting aspects of American politics and politicians’-media dynamics is that someone can state something that is false and get away with it, then if they backtrack all is seemingly forgotten. Will we have another one of those moments? Republican Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan has just shaken the Etch a Sketch on what has become one of his most controversial — and widely covered and repeated more than once by Ryan — assertions:

Vice-presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) backpedaled Monday from a claim in his Republican National Convention speech that President Barack Obama was responsible for the closure of a General Motors plant that in fact closed during the presidency of George W. Bush.

“What they are trying to suggest is that I said Barack Obama was responsible for the plant shutdown in Janesville. That is not what I was saying, read the speech,” he told NBC’s “Today.” “What I was saying is the president ought to be held to account for his broken promises. After the plant was shut down he said he would lead efforts to restore the plant. It’s still idle.”

You could say “fair enough,” except Ryan has been saying Obama closed the plant — and if he has not been saying it he has left the impression he was and has not until now put out this kind of statement:

But Ryan appeared to be blaming Obama for the closure of the plant, located in his hometown of Janesville, Wis., in his speech:

“My home state voted for President Obama,” he said Wednesday. “When he talked about change, many people liked the sound of it, especially in Janesville, where we were about to lose a major factory.”

“A lot of guys I went to high school with worked at that GM plant,” Ryan said. “Right there at that plant, candidate Obama said: ‘I believe that if our government is there to support you…this plant will be here for another hundred years.’ That’s what he said in 2008. Well, as it turned out, that plant didn’t last another year. It is locked up and empty to this day. And that’s how it is in so many towns today, where the recovery that was promised is nowhere in sight.”

Obama did not promise to keep the plant open. He said that with government help, the plant could remain open.

And how about this story that ran on August 16th in the Detroit News:

Washington – Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan inaccurately said Thursday that President Barack Obama “broke his promise” by failing to keep a General Motors plant open that closed in 2008 – before the Democrat took office.

Ryan, the House Budget committee chairman, recounted the decision by GM to shutter the Janesville Assembly plant in his hometown in June 2008. The last SUV rolled off the line in December 2008.

“I remember President Obama visiting it when he was first running, saying he’ll keep that plant open,” Ryan said at a campaign stop in Ohio Thursday, recounting the fact that his high school friends worked at the GM assembly plant. “One more broken promise. We used to build Tahoes and Suburbans. One of the reasons that plant got shut down was $4 gasoline. You see, this costs jobs. The president’s terrible energy policies are costing us jobs.”

In fact, Obama made no such promise and the plant halted production in December 2008, when President George W. Bush was in office.

GM cited the low demand for SUVs and high gas prices during the Bush administration as the reason for closing the plant, but Obama hadn’t taken office.

Obama did speak at the plant in February 2008, and suggested that a government partnership with automakers could keep the plant open, but made no promises as Ryan suggested.

“I believe if our government is there to support you, and give you the assistance you need to re-tool and make this transition, that this plant will be here for another hundred years,” Obama said.

The Janesville plant, which once employed about 7,000 and had 2,400 workers when GM announced it would close, remains on standby. The plant opened in 1919.

Will the media continue with the traditional ballet where when someone moves his or her mouth and says some words it must be so — even if the record doesn’t suggest it is?

Read THIS by yours truly and THIS by Jay Rosen.

UPDATE: The Washington Post’s James Downie on its Post-Partisan blog offers these five ways Ryan’s GM attack was dishonest.

USA Today on August 16:

At a campaign stop in Ohio on Thursday, Rep. Paul Ryan noted that the GM plant in his hometown of Janesville, Wis., shuttered its operations despite Barack Obama’s promise to “keep the plant open.” What Ryan left out of the narrative: the detail that the plant stopped production in December 2008, before Obama took office.

Ryan, Mitt Romney’s vice presidential pick, said Obama visited the plant during the 2008 campaign.

“I remember President Obama visiting it when he was first running, saying he’ll keep that plant open — one more broken promise,” Ryan said.

The announcement by then-GM president Rick Wagoner that Janesville would be one of three plants to close came at a meeting of shareholders in early June 2008, according to a Chicago Tribune report at the time.

Obama did speak at the plant in February 2008, telling workers who had already faced layoffs that “if our government is there to support you, and give you the assistance you need to re-tool and make this transition, that this plant will be here for another hundred years.”

The plant stopped production on Dec. 23, 2008, according to an Associated Press report.

New York Magazine’s Blog August 17:

When Paul Ryan looks at the empty GM plant in his Janesville, Wisconsin, district, all he sees is President Obama and “one more broken promise.” Problem is, the factory that opened in 1919 and once employed 7,000 workers closed five months before the president was even elected.

Ryan accused President Obama of breaking the nonexistent promise at a campaign stop in Ohio yesterday. “I remember President Obama visiting it when he was first running, saying he’ll keep that plant open,” Ryan said with rolled-up sleeves. “One of the reasons that plant got shut down was $4 gasoline. You see, this costs jobs. The president’s terrible energy policies are costing us jobs.”

Not all of Ryan’s story was a lie. Then-candidate Obama did visit the GM plant in February 2008. During the trip he said, “I believe if our government is there to support you, and give you the assistance you need to re-tool and make this transition, that this plant will be here for another hundred years.”

Buzzfeed:

Paul Ryan Sent Out 2008 Press Release On Decision To Close GM Plant

The Congressman acknowledges most work would stop in December 2008, but also noted the accelerated closure timeline only applied to the SUVs built at the plant.

That’s the headline. Here’s the press release:

         

12 Comments

  1. Lol GM and SUV’s. Gas was sky high long before Obama got into office. I remember watching the 2006 NBA finals. There were SIX commercials there for Hummvies during that game. Gas in ’06 was thru the roof and GM was still spending that kind of money pushing Hummers for god’s sake. That was when I was certain GM was in trouble because they were idiots. The fact that the company was saved yet the factory for gas guzzlers didn’t make the cut is not something to wonder about. And Ryan, while not lying in his speech, certainly was misleading about where the blame falls for that particular plant. Which is why he would have been able to walk it back since he never directly said Obama was why that plant shut down. Until the article in New York Magazine, where he not only blamed Obama for the plant shutdown, but the high prices of gas that made people not want to buy SUV’s. Lol, that is laying it on pretty thick.

  2. Ryan suffers from two qualities which are frowned upon outside the GOP and popular within it. He cannot avoid lying about his opponents on a regular basis and he pretends to understand economics while the facts don’t support his arguments.

  3. “One of the most interesting aspects of American politics and politicians’-media dynamics is that someone can state something that is false and get away with it, then if they backtrack all is seemingly forgotten. Will we have another one of those moments? Republican Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan has just shaken the Etch a Sketch on what has become one of his most controversial — and widely covered and repeated more than once by Ryan — assertions”

    Sorry, but Ryan NEVER blamed Obama for closing the Plant. Go back and reread his speech. You can’t say he “left the impression”; Forget about impressions. Just pay attention to he words. He has NEVER wavered from what he said in his speech: Like many of Obama’s promises from 2008, he over promised and underdelivered. People can “infer” and put words in his mouth all they want. He said Obama promised to keep the plant open, and didn’t deliver on his promise. Ryan said nothing more and nothing less, and no nonpartisan can listen to Ryan’s speech and suggest otherwise.

  4. “this plant will be here for another hundred years.’ That’s what he said in 2008. Well, as it turned out, that plant didn’t last another year. Notice the part of the quote in italics. The implication is that the plant closed under Obama. I think 99 out of 100 people would come to this conclusion, which is utterly false. The plant closing occurred months before Obama’s speech.

  5. SJ, did you miss the part of the post where Ryan’s campaign stop speech said “I remember President Obama visiting it when he was first running, saying he’ll keep that plant open — one more broken promise,”? Looks like a lie to me given what Obama actually said.

  6. Smooth Jazz said: “You can’t say he “left the impression”; Forget about impressions. Just pay attention to he words.”

    Interesting how Ryan’s own supporters thought that he meant that Obama was to blame for the plant closure. And I’d like to know WHY we can’t say “left the impression”? People use words to leave impressions all the time. If we’re having this conversation…. if Ryan is trying to backpedal on what he said then obviously people were left with an impression with what Ryan said. If it was a matter of Ryan not being clear, that’s one thing. But then if Obama is not to be blamed for the plant’s closure then why does Ryan even mention Obama’s name? I’m sorry, but Ryan was blaming Obama for the plant’s closure.

    Smooth Jazz said, ” He said Obama promised to keep the plant open, and didn’t deliver on his promise. Ryan said nothing more and nothing less, and no nonpartisan can listen to Ryan’s speech and suggest otherwise.”

    And I agree with Jim Satterfield…. Ryan claimed that Obama promised to keep the plant open and broke his promise. Obama never made such a promise. Ryan is even lying about that.

  7. I personally think it is nice to have a pure republican apologist at tmv. Most of the conservatives here don’t tow the party line. It is good to know what the 28 percenters are saying.

  8. Smooth Jazz said: He [Ryan] said Obama promised to keep the plant open, and didn’t deliver on his promise. Ryan said nothing more and nothing less, and no nonpartisan can listen to Ryan’s speech and suggest otherwise.

    No Smooth Jazz Obama NEVER ‘promised to keep the plant open.’

    Here’s exactly what Candidate Obama said:

    “And I believe that if our government is there to support you, and give you the assistance you need to re-tool and make this transition, that this plant will be here for another hundred years. The question is not whether a clean energy economy is in our future, it’s where it will thrive. I want it to thrive right here in the United States of America; right here in Wisconsin; and that’s the future I’ll fight for as your president.”

    There’s been a plague lately of partial quoting nutters trying to make a persons words something they were not.

    However I have to agree with ShannonLeee, it’s good to be able to get a picture of just how far the rabid 28% are willing to go.

  9. By Smooth Jazz’s logic, Ryan is still a liar. The plant is still there! It’s not in use (making SUV’S or anything else), but it hasn’t been torn down, so it might still exist in 100 years. Therefore, if one chooses to take only the literal meaning of the words, Ryan still fails to pass the truth test!

  10. Still trying to figure out if
    A) our political system has always been this indept and we only now have the internet to be aware of it OR;
    B) things are really as bad as they seem

    any guesses?

  11. AFAIK, hyperflow, there have always been lies. One of the differences is that most of the liars were confined to newspapers, and thus had a very limited distribution. Reputable newspapers were loathe to risk their credibility by republishing statements of idiots. Now, with the internet, anyone, myself included, can state anything and have the possibility of millions of readers seeing it within the next 15 minutes. I’m not sure if this has brought out more of the crazies, created more of the crazies, or simply highlighted more of the crazies. My gut feeling is that it has simply highlighted more of them.

  12. It funny how both can twist the words of each other. Both right and wrong. I would think car sales would be up with all the car salesmen in Washington….

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