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Wed., Sept. 17, 2008, 5:15 a.m.

McCain waffles, anyone?

Good morning, Netizens...

Yesterday, after John McCain waffled several times when speaking of the economy, and after a careful review of the number of government buyouts of failing banks, loan institutions and investment firms, I cannot help but feel that McCain is badly out-of-touch with reality when it comes to our nation's economy.

Monday morning, as the financial system absorbed one of its biggest shocks in generations, John McCain said, “There’s tremendous turmoil in our financial markets and on Wall Street. “People are frightened by these events. Our economy, I think still, the fundamentals of our economy are strong. But these are very, very difficult times. And I promise you we will never put America in this position again. We will clean up Wall Street. We will reform government. And this is a failure.” (As quoted by AP and a handful of newspapers)

Hours later he backpedaled, explaining that he had meant that American workers, whom he described as the backbone of the economy, were productive and resilient. By Tuesday he was calling the economic situation “a total crisis” and denouncing “greed” on Wall Street and in Washington. That looks like a waffle to me, but it could just be politics speaking.

As recently as January of this year, McCain, appearing at a Republican debate, stated on the record that Americans were better off than they were eight years ago; by this summer he had released an advertisement that said “we’re worse off than we were four years ago.” (AP, New York Times, Wall Street Journal) Speaking strictly from experience, there is no way we have been better off financially since George Bush took office. Otherwise, how can you explain away the trillion dollar debt, the bank foreclosures, the savings and loan debacle or the mortgage bailouts? I'm glad to see McCain woke up and smelled what he was shoveling when he said we were better off than eight years ago.

His first big speech on the mortgage crisis warned against excessive government intervention; a month later he released his plan for government action to help people keep their homes ostensibly by more tightly regulating the mortgage lending firms. Rather than calling that a U-turn, which semantically it was, I'll call that a waffle, because poor John McCain doesn't seem to recognize looming disaster when he sees it.

Of course, a tour on which he embarked in July to emphasize his understanding of Americans’ economic pain was overshadowed when one of his top economic advisers, former Senator Phil Gramm of Texas, was quoted as saying that the United States was only in a “mental recession” and had become “a nation of whiners.” A mental recession? Only my wallet is in recession, not my mind. As for a nation of whiners, perhaps Gramm needs to walk down Wall Street, perhaps reflecting a bit about the whiners whose offices have been sold or in foreclosure.

I am relatively certain that the ideo-conservatives will no doubt have a field day trying to defend what appear to be McCain's back-and-forth statements on the economy. However, I believe I recognize a stack of waffles when I see them. All I need to make McCain's policy statements into a complete breakfast is some butter and syrup.


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Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.