"Mental" Decline

A campaign blog.
July 10 2008 5:02 PM

"Mental" Decline

McCain economic adviser Phil Gramm did his candidate no favors Wednesday when he told the Washington Times that the current economic downturn is a "mental recession." "We have sort of become a nation of whiners," Gramm said. "You just hear this constant whining, complaining about a loss of competitiveness, America in decline."

Off-message much? 

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McCain repudiated Gramm’s comments: "Phil Gramm does not speak for me. I speak for me, so I strongly disagree." Obama, meanwhile, mocked him.

But Gramm refused to play the gaffe game. "I'm not going to retract any of it," he told the Washington Post . "Every word I said was true." He explained that although "the economy is bad," it doesn’t qualify as a "recession." And that other part? "When I said we've become a nation of whiners, I'm talking about our leaders. I'm not talking about our people."

The funny part is, recession or not, Gramm and his investors have felt the pain as much as anyone. Just look at the stock of UBS, where Gramm serves as vice chairman. It’s dropped by 70 percent over the last year. (See Daniel Gross' recent  Slate piece to find out why.)

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Perhaps UBS shareholders' losses are also mental? That, or they're just whiners.

Image credit: Yahoo! Finance 

Christopher Beam is a writer living in Beijing.