“The fundamentals of our economy are strong.”
—Sen. John McCain, Sept. 25, 2008
It may be true, but sometimes truth hurts the politician who says it. And sometimes it doesn’t. On a day when unemployment was 6.1 percent and the Dow at 10,918, John McCain said, “The fundamentals of our economy are strong.” With America facing a credit crash, his words sounded tinny. Barack Obama had a field day mocking McCain’s distant relationship with reality. With some polls showing him leading the presidential race with six weeks to go, McCain compounded his problem by suspending his campaign, announcing he’d return to Washington to fix the problem, and suggesting he wouldn’t show up at Friday’s debate unless he had. When instead he appeared at the debate without a legislative fix having been passed, no American believed the problem solved. But McCain had stripped himself of his candidacy’s last, grand virtue—the sense he was above politics and would always put the country first. Of course, it matters if the press is your friend and you look like you’re doing something. Then you can get away with it. Fast-forward to March 13, 2009, with unemployment at 8.5 percent and the Dow at 7224: President Obama insisted on everyone “keeping focused on all the fundamentally sound aspects of our economy.” Now that’s audacity!