As everyone who pays any attention to estadounidense politics undoubtedly knows House Speaker Paul Ryan has announced his congressional retirement. I decided to listen to his speech and something that I heard him say has stayed in my head since I heard it. The Speaker of the United States House of Representatives made a fascinating rhetorical decision in the speech announcing his retirement. I want to talk about it and check how committed he is to it (as in how committed he is to serving his constituency honestly).
The moment in the press conference that this occurs is 3:56-4:30. To hear him say it watch the following video:
Paul Ryan Previously Denied Retirement Reports:
Seth Meyers once joked that for every Trump action there is an equal and opposite Trump clip. That’s how I felt when I heard the news that House Speaker Paul Ryan was retiring because as very few people seem to remember the House Speaker denied retirement rumors as late as in December of 2017. It now appears as if House Speaker Ryan was lying back then as to not get people overly excited about his departure or perhaps he really did change his mind on this, but even at that time people predicted that the speaker would be leaving shortly after the midterm elections (which is correct).
Here’s How House Speaker Ryan’s Record Of Honesty & Truthfulness Compares To His Predecessors (According To Politifact):
I decided after hearing his speech at his press conference to independently check if this House Speaker has made more honest claims than his predecessors. To do this I went to Politifact and read the records of Nancy Pelosi (House Speaker from January 4th 2007-January 3rd 2011), John Boehner (House Speaker from January 5th 2011-October 29th, 2015), and of course of the current House Speaker Paul Ryan (October 29th 2015 until January 2019). I admit that there are flaws in this, such as the fact that not every political claim a politician makes is examined (or even capable of being examined) by Politifact and of course the inherent problems in giving political claims “true”, “mostly”, “half-true”, “mostly false”, “false”, & “pants on fire” ratings but it’s better than not examining political claims and a candidate’s level of honesty or awareness of reality at all.
Blindly how does this hold up? If one looks at Nancy Pelosi’s record in general, she makes 38 claims that were examined by Politifact. Of those claims Politifact finds 59% of them to be more honest than not (this means true, mostly true, & half-true) and finds 41% of them to be m. The total number of more honest than not claims is 22 claims. Her total number of claims that are more false than not is 16 (mostly false, false, & pants on fire).
How does Boehner do? His total number of Politifact examined claims is: 69. Of those claims Boehner’s more honest than not claims come out to: 32. His total number of claims that are more false than not claims come out to: 37.
How does Mr. “I have to serve the people of my constituency honestly” compare? He makes a total of 84 claims that have been examined by Politifact. Interestingly his total number of claims that have been rated more honest than not amount to: 49 claims (and a total of 58% of his claims that have been examined by Politifact). The total number of claims that are more false than not amount to: 35 (and 41% of his total claims).
Fascinatingly he’s been House Speaker the shortest amount of time and he has made the highest number of more true than not claims (in accordance with the number of claims examined by Politifact). Paradoxically he’s also made the highest number of pants on fire claims (once again in accordance with the number of claims examined by Politifact). He makes more claims that Politifact has examined than his predecessors and as such his number of honest claims is higher, as is his number of false claims.
Another crack at this I might one day take is to talk about how each of these individual’s overall records compare to their examined honesty levels during their tenures as House Speakers but at the end of the day what Paul Ryan said about honesty doesn’t and didn’t just apply when he was the Speaker of the House. He never said that in the context of being Speaker of the House but rather about serving as a congressman in general.
I don’t know if he should be saying that he has to serve his constituency honestly when he has the highest number of pants on fire claims as well as the highest number of mostly false claims according to an independent fact-checking group but I am not one of his constituents. What do you think? Do you think he’s served his constituency honestly? I know where I stand on that but I’d love to know how you feel about his claim and how you’ve examined it.