Paul Ryan’s Marvelously Orwellian RNC Speech

Paul Ryan tells unconvincing Orwellian lies during his VP acceptance speech. (Credit: Reuters/Mike Segar)

Last night I was mesmerized by Paul Ryan’s Orwellian VP acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention (RNC). It was as if Paul Ryan appeared in drag doing a febrile imitation Ayn Rand in a bizarre movie remake of George Orwell’s 1984. An absolutely bizarre Ryan performance from so many perspectives.

In his novel, 1984, Orwell describes conditions and situations in a free and open society that are destructive to its welfare. [i]  The RNC, generally, and Paul Ryan, in particular during his speech, use all the Orwellian weapons at their disposal: misinformation, denial of truth, propaganda, manipulation of the past, and they have even created the “unperson” – erasing the person’s existence from public record and memory. Does George W. Bush come to anyone’s mind?

Bush’s eight years of Republican mismanagement leading to the worst economic crisis in eighty years has ceased to exist for Ryan, Romney, and everyone at the RNC. Any mention of the unperson, G.W. Bush, is met with blank or hostile stares from the delegates, who begin stumbling about like zombies in the movie, Night of the Living Dead.

Let us press on to a few magnificent Orwellian Ryan truth-challenged cases:

“Paul Ryan’s Orwellian Doublethink #1: Ryan lambasted President Obama for “raiding” Medicare by taking the exact same $716 billion that Ryan, himself, and the House GOP voted to cut. Obama uses the money for funding other areas of Obamacare while Ryan’s and the GOP’s vote simply cut Medicare funding.”

Here, Ryan is not merely promoting disinformation, propaganda, and blatant lies; he also clearly demonstrates one of 1984’s central concepts, “Doublethink,” by simultaneously believing and promoting two mutually exclusive and contradictory beliefs as correct.

“Paul Ryan’s Orwellian Doublethink #2:  Ryan claims taxpayers got nothing from the 2009 stimulus but “more debt,” when in fact, most got a tax cut. Of course, Ryan failed to mention that the stimulus is credited with having saved 1.4 to 3.3 million jobs, a major accomplishment.”

This is another example of Orwellian “Doublespeak,” as opposed to simple cognitive dissonance – two beliefs conflict in one’s mind – which all rational people experience from time to time.  What is chilling about Ryan is that he does not suffer from cognitive dissonance; he does not recognize any conflict of concepts, ideas, or difference between demonstrable facts and lies. And this makes him most scary as a potential President as he clearly demonstrates that he is not objectively rational thinker.

“Paul Ryan’s Orwellian Doublethink #3: Ryan pointedly criticized President Obama for not following the Simpson Bowles commission deficit-cutting recommendations. A most bizarre and deceitful criticism of the President considering that Ryan himself, as a commission member, voted against these same recommendations.”

This last Ryan disinformation chit conjures up what Orwell describes as “Newspeak” in 1984:

“To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it…”[ii]

Clearly, Ryan was an Orwellian roll during his acceptance speech.

Paul Ryan’s Orwellian Doublethink Newspeak #’s 4, 5, 6, & 7: Ryan sanctimoniously blamed Obama for deficits mostly created by programs Ryan, himself, himself voted for: 4)two wars, 5) tax cuts benefiting mainly the wealthiest Americans, 6) new Medicare benefits, and 7)TARP.

Ryan’s entire speech was a littany of Orwellian Newspeak, containing numerous words and concepts that create associations between contradictory meanings. Following is Orwell’s description of Newspeak in 1984,which perfectly describes Paul Ryan’s ethos and modus operandi:

“The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them… To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just as long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies – all this is indispensably necessary.”[ii]

Ryan’s clearly did not know the difference between fundamentally important words and concepts, like  justice and injustice, right and wrong, good and evil, and the two words Ryan seems to have the most trouble distinguishing, truth and falsehood.

What is most disturbing about Paul Ryan, nay, Mitt Romney, Chris Christie, evangelical Christians, and the Tea Party, is that like workers toiling away in the Ministry of Truth in 1984, Doublethinking Ryan and his ultra-conservative Republican cohorts not only falsify public records and history, but even more frightening to me is the fact that they passionately believe in the truth of new historicities they have just written.

Therein lurks the true danger of inveterate Doublethinkers and Newspeakers like Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney, their blustering, chest-thumping Tea Party pseudo-patriots, and their “Trust me – I’m a good Christian” theological knuckle-dragging cohorts. Any threat to America’s freedoms from President Obama’s policies juxtaposed to the draconian and social Darwinian curatives espoused by the current crop of ultra-right wing RNC Tea Party crypto-fascists would be much like comparing a flea bite on a elephant’s derriere to advanced pancreatic cancer.

Bart Nedelman

[ii] Kehl, D.G.; Livingston (July 1999). “Doublespeak Detection for the English Classroom”. The English Journal 88 (6): 78. JSTOR 822191.

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