Photograph of Republican vice presidential candidate Ryan is seen at Delta Tau Delta house at Miami University in Oxford (Photo : Reuters)
The media's eagerness to turn Paul Ryan's African American ex-girlfriend into a campaign issue is an indication that people want to intimately engage with Ryan's character and judge his worth as a leader.
When you type Paul Ryan into Google, the search engine recommends the phrase "Paul Ryan's Black Ex," indicating that it is the most popular Paul Ryan related story at the moment. Rather than suggesting "Paul Ryan Political Views" or "Paul Ryan Record," the discussion has directed itself towards the politician's relationship history. Yet, this turn of the conversation is not unexpected. In fact, it falls directly in line with the towering influence of public image in politics.
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Let's take a step back to 1998 when Bill Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives on the charges of perjury and obstruction of justice for falsely claiming that he did not have "sexual relations" with Monica Lewinsky, a White House Intern at the time. Additional charges that never passed were a second perjury charge and a charge for abuse of power.
Although Clinton was acquitted due to a lack of the required two-thirds majority for conviction, the basis for his impeachment was that he had lied to the American people. His character itself was brought into question and brought to light the need for a consistent and trustworthy leader.
A large number of the stories being written about the subject ask if the news has any importance, or examine the impact that it will have on the presidential race, clearly indicating that there is a resistance to classifying Ryan's ex as an important campaign issue. Despite questioning its relevance, countless media outlets have explored the issue. While we can tie in statistics from the latest polls and gather quotes from Ryan's college buddies, they do not speak to the real issue.
The fact is that the American people want to know who Paul Ryan really is; they want to know if they can trust him. Ryan's dating history is a window into one of the most personal aspects of the politician's life and regardless of his ex's race voters will unashamedly peer through it to understand who he is as a person.