Two deception experts have weighed in on Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s recent campaignesque speeches and analyzed whether Ryan might be lying in saying that he’s definitely not running for president.
It started with the establishment not warming up to Donald Trump or Ted Cruz. It seemed that the candidates that the GOP wanted just weren’t picking up steam. The only ones who seemed to do well were those seen as outsiders.
The best that the establishment could do was to convince the remaining candidates to stay in the race – something that “lower-tiered” candidates usually get badgered for by the media – with the hopes that Donald Trump nor Ted Cruz would end up with a majority of delegates. In that scenario, neither candidate would receive the nomination on the first ballot at the national convention. The convention would then be considered contested.
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With this possible scenario in mind, pundits started planting names in viewers’ minds as alternative suggestions for nominee. (Perhaps at the behest of the GOP?) One such oft-repeated name that was floated was Paul Ryan.
His recent videos sound an awful lot like he’s running for president, in spite of the fact that he repeatedly makes a point to state that he’s definitely not running for president.
Phil Houston is an ex-CIA deception expert who heads up a company called QVerity, which trains people how to detect deception, among many other things. He and his colleague Don Tennant analyzed Paul Ryan’s speeches, explaining the following:
Despite having made the dramatic, Johnson-esque, “I do not want, nor will I accept” declaration, Ryan appeared to build in just enough wiggle room to suggest he wants his party to know he can be swayed on the matter.
“If no candidate has a majority on the first ballot,” Ryan said, “I believe that you should only choose from a person who has actually participated in the primary.” There was very likely a reason that Ryan couched this statement, and a similar one toward the end of the press conference, in terms of simply being what he believes should be the case, as opposed to what absolutely must be the case.
The two deception experts observed that “Ryan said nothing to convey any sense that there’s no need for a white knight to come to the rescue of the Republican nomination.”
Further, as Houston and Tennant pointed out, Ryan said nothing positive of the three remaining candidates. This is significant, because if Ryan were completely sincere and had absolutely no intent whatsoever in seeking the nomination for president, he would have likely said something positive about one or more of the candidates currently running. He would have explained that while he and they may have their differences, each of them is qualified to be the Party’s nominee and the country’s president.
Instead, as the deception experts noted, “he took the opportunity for a thinly veiled attack.” Paul Ryan said, “Politics today, it tends to drift toward personality contests, not policy contests. Insults get ink more than ideas.”
There’s definitely something to it. It’s always wise to be suspect of politicians, especially when their lips are moving.
In Paul Ryan’s case, people are speculating that this is just the way he campaigns. After all, this is how he “campaigned” for Speaker of the House – by saying that he didn’t want to be Speaker and had no intention of running for the position. And yet, he’s Speaker.
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For this reason, the deception experts concluded:
“[E]ven if Ryan’s true intention is to rule himself out as the Republican nominee for President, the precedent has been set. Given the extraordinary circumstances surrounding the Republican primary, intent may well prove to be even more fleeting this time around.”