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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

ready on day 5,865

John McCain assumed office as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives on January 3, 1983. Exactly four years later, he assumed office as a U.S. Senator. If, somehow, he wins the 2008 presidential election, he would be inaugurated on January 20, 2009. I wonder if by then he will have found the time to learn about economics.

Five years after his first presidential campaign, McCain told this to the Wall Street Journal, as quoted in their November 26, 2005 issue:
I’m going to be honest: I know a lot less about economics than I do about military and foreign policy issues. I still need to be educated.

Brilliant. A presidential candidate who does not understand economics and says so to the world.

Today McCain gave his first major speech on the current housing crisis, and it is stunningly void of anything but platitudes. From the transcript at McCain's website, this is as specific as McCain gets about banking reform:
'When we commit taxpayer dollars as assistance, it should be accompanied by reforms that ensure that we never face this problem again. Central to those reforms should be transparency and accountability.'
Transparency and accountability? Is that the best he can do? I'd say his education is off to a slow start.

Later today I saw Jack Kemp, a McCain supporter and Bob Dole's running mate in 1996, on MSNBC talking about McCain's speech today. Talking to host Andrea Mitchell, he said of McCain:
'John is a quick study.'

I recognize that most U.S. presidents in my lifetime have not been particularly bright, but, given the economic exigencies of the moment, perhaps we should be unusually vigilant against electing someone who, not only cannot tell Sunni from Shia, but also may not know the difference between fiscal policy and monetary policy.

Reader, I don't know about you, but I think twenty-five years in office is enough time to learn about economic policy. The kindest thing to do for McCain might be to send him back to Arizona so that he can get the education he so sorely needs. In another twenty-five years, he might be ready to run for president.

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