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Dr. McCain Calls Economic Problems "Psychological." Again.

June 25, 2008

John McCain isn't a psychologist, but he's playing one on TV. Again. For the second time in two months, the supposed maverick turned modern day Freud has diagnosed Americans' economic ills and concluded that it's all in our heads. And to be sure, his recommended therapy - offshore oil drilling and a gas tax holiday - are the equivalent of "take two aspirin and call me in the morning."
At a town hall meeting in Fresno on Tuesday, McCain finally overcame his own cognitive dissonance on the issue of offshore oil drilling. Acknowledging the inescapable conclusion that expanded oil exploration off Florida and California would have no impact on gas prices for years, McCain insisted it was nonetheless the right tonic for Americans' economic woes:

"I don't see an immediate relief, but I do see that exploitation of existing reserves that may exist -- and in view of many experts that do exist off our coasts -- is also a way that we need to provide relief. Even though it may take some years, the fact that we are exploiting those reserves would have psychological impact that I think is beneficial."

While Dr. McCain's about-face on offshore drilling is new, his conclusion that the deepening American economic crisis is merely psychological is not.
On Tuesday, McCain prescribed his summer gas tax holiday for America's depressed drivers, explaining "In the short term I'd like to give you a little relief for the summer on the gas tax." But back in April, Sigmund McCain told Fox News host Neil Cavuto that his placebo was just what the doctor ordered for Americans' fragile psyches, if not their pocketbooks:

"I'm very concerned about it, Neil. And obviously the way it's been going up is just terrible. But I think psychologically - and a lot of our problems today, as you know, are psychological - the confidence, trust, the uncertainty about our economic future, ability to keep our own home. This might give them a little psychological boost. Let's have some straight talk, it's not a huge amount of money."

Of course, John McCain is nothing if not ironic. On more than one occasion, McCain prescribed eBay as the cure for recession and poverty. This latest episode of McCain as economic know-nothing turned armchair psychologist came on literally the same day Karl Rove branded Democrat Barack Obama as the "coolly arrogant", "country club" snob. John and Cindy McCain, after all, are worth an estimated $100 million and own eight homes (though the one with "remote control window coverings" is now up for sale). And, as it turns out, the $373,000 the couple would save annually from John McCain's tax plan would more than offset their $225,000 in credit card debt.
Even more ironic, though, is John McCain trying to diagnose Americans' economic mental health given his own profound suffering from a variant of the "Sybil complex." Sybil was a woman who in the 70's exhibited 16 different personalities. As it turns out, John McCain is a man in his seventies who has displayed different personalities - and changed positions - on dozens of issues.
For the Washington Post's Richard Cohen, John McCain's spineless opportunism is just in our heads. Just like, according to Dr. McCain, the economic slowdown.

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Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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