John McCain quickly repudiated the comment of his economic adviser, Phil Gramm, that the US had become a “nation of whiners” and that the only recession the nation had experience this year was a “mental recession”. ABC News reports that Team McCain pushed a YouTube today that showed McCain rejecting that construct even as Gramm said it had been misunderstood:
“I don’t agree with Senator Gramm,” he said. “I believe that the person here in Michigan that just lost his job isn’t suffering from a mental recession. I believe the mother here in Michigan and around America that is trying to get enough money to educate their children isn’t whining. America’s in great difficulty and we are experiencing enormous economic challenges as well as others. Phil Gramm does not speak for me. I speak for me, so I strongly disagree, go ahead and follow-up.”
Asked about Obama’s comments today — in which Obama noted that McCain had said that part of the recession are psychological and that some of McCain’s energy plan will have “psychological”, adding that the nation doesn’t need another Dr. Phil — McCain said that when it comes to ideas about energy independence, Obama is “Dr. No.”
A reporter asked if there’s any chance that Phil Gramm would be McCain’s Secretary of Treasury or play a significant economic policy-making role in a McCain administration.
“I think that Senator Gramm would be in serious consideration for Ambassador to Belarus,” McCain joked, “although I’m not sure the citizens of Minsk would welcome that.”
Gramm, meanwhile, tried to clarify his comments by saying that he was referring to the leadership of the country, and that’s probably true. However, Gramm is no political naif who should get surprised by the opening he left Democrats. They rushed to trot out every anecdotal story of tough times, even using Michigan — a state in which Democrats run the government and control its economic policy — as an example.
McCain takes the politically adept course here, acknowledging the pain of many in the current economic slowdown, and casting his policies as the answer for the problem. He doesn’t look very happy with Gramm in this clip, which unfortunately does not include the joke about sending Gramm to Belarus. Actually, the Belarussians would be lucky to get Gramm as an envoy if the current dictatorship would be smart enough to take his advice — and even if Gramm tossed some sand in the gears today, McCain’s still fortunate to have him as an adviser now.