Against Whacka-Whacka Claims That Al Gore Would Have Been "Likely" to Attack Iraq in 2003 as George W. Bush Did
Kudos to Modeled Behavior for Weighing in at Forbes on the Desirability of Carbon Taxes…

No. Paul Ryan Could Not Be a Budget Analyst for a Day. Why Do You Ask?

Paul Krugman:

Delusions of Wonkhood: Dave Weigel has some fun with credulous journalists who are sure that Paul Ryan must be a Very Serious Wonk because — wait for it — he uses PowerPoint. With pie charts!

This is really amazing.

Look, I know wonks. Ryan is not a wonk. Yes, he likes charts and slides. But he very clearly doesn’t know what his numbers actually mean. When the famous plan was unveiled, it was quite clear that he never even realized that the Heritage projection of his plan’s impact made a completely ridiculous assertion about what would happen to unemployment. Nor did he realize that his assumptions about discretionary spending would require cutting such spending — including defense! — to levels not seen since Calvin Coolidge.

One question one might ask is whether Ryan is aware that he isn’t actually a wonk, that he just plays one on TV. Maybe not; some of what he says suggests the Dunning-Kruger effect at work,: he may be so innumerate that he doesn’t realize that he has no idea what the numbers he throws around mean. And after all, why would he, given all the praise he’s received for putting up a line graph or pie chart here and there?

If the fate of the republic weren’t at stake, it would be funny — and painfully embarrassing.

Dave Weigel:

Paul Ryan: Media say his use of Powerpoint makes him a wonk.: Defining Wonkishness Down: I'm noticing a pattern in coverage of Paul Ryan. Yesterday's NYT and WaPo gripe-collecters on how conservatives wanted to "unleash" the candidate were a taster. The next wave of Ryan story is the "the wonk is loosed" piece. When you see just how the "wonkishness" is being defined, it's fairly amusing. One example: Former Slatester Rebecca Kaplan reports that Ryan is "letting his wonk flag fly."

In addition to a debt clock -- now a must-have prop at Republican political rallies -- Ryan was flanked by two large screens that projected a favorite tool of academics and businessmen: a PowerPoint presentation.

“I’m kind of a PowerPoint guy, so I hope you'll bear with me,” Ryan told the audience as he began clicking through four slides, which showed graphs depicting U.S. debt held by the public from 1940 to present, debt per person in the United States, percentage of debt held by foreign countries and a breakdown of federal spending. He then launched into a 10-minute monologue on the federal debt, throwing around terms such as “Congressional Budget Office” and “Treasury bills” to illustrate his point.

That's all it takes? Four slides about the size of the debt? Wouldn't the wonky thing here be a presentation on the debt followed by details of how Ryan will cut it back? I suppose that's not possible, because if the Romney remix of the Ryan plan is enacted, we add to the debt by restoring $700 billion to future Medicare spending, stop most tax increases, and increase defense spending…. No matter. The "Powerpoints = wonkishness" theme is getting around, although different reporters are adding different levels of caveats. Joe Vardon:

In shirt and tie, professorial-sounding U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan said “this is the crisis at our doorstep” as he plowed through a PowerPoint presentation on the federal debt… Ryan, the GOP’s vice presidential nominee, meticulously guided 1,680 supporters in Lima through pie charts and graphics on the debt this afternoon.

Shawna Shepard:

Before the question and answer portion of Saturday's event, Ryan used two large projector screens to illustrate the federal government's ever-increasing debt. "I'm kind of a PowerPoint guy, so I hope you'll bear with me," he said. Ryan used a graph to show that by 2040, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the United States will owe nearly 250% of the gross domestic product or the entire American economy….

[E]xpect to see "hey, he used charts!" deployed as one of the arguments deployed to prove that the veep nominee elevated the campaign