During an interview yesterday, Fox News’s Carl Cameron asked Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) if it was a “mistake” for McCain to say he knows little about the economy. But McCain denied that he had made any such suggestion, arguing that his past comments were taken “out of context”:
CAMERON: Realistically, was it a mistake for you to suggest that overall your attentiveness to the economy is subordinated by national security?
MCCAIN: As briefly as possible, when you’re on the back of the bus for hours with the media if they want to take a phrase out of context thats fine, thats one of the penalties you pay.
Watch it (beginning at 1:52):
Taken “out of context?” How many times can McCain be taken out of context? Aside from the fact that when viewed at face value, his comments speak for themselves, McCain has said he knows little about the economy on numerous occasions, as recently as last December:
— Seeking to explain his shift to the left on economic issues, McCain claimed: “I didn’t pay nearly the attention to those issues in the past. I was probably a ‘supply-sider’ based on the fact that I really didn’t jump into the issue.” [Jan. 2000]
— “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.” [Nov. 2005]
— “The issue of economics is not something I’ve understood as well as I should,” but “I’ve got Greenspan’s book.” [Dec. 2007]
In fact, McCain’s interview with Cameron wasn’t the first time he has denied claiming his economic knowledge is sub-par. NBC’s Tim Russert asked him about his “I still need to be educated” on economics claim last January but McCain dodged, saying “I don’t know where you got that quote.” When Russert asked McCain about the same quote three days later, McCain acknowledged he said it, but never claimed he was taken out of context. McCain simply replied, “Am I, am I smart on economics? Yes.”
In reality, the old McCain is right. He doesn’t have a solid grasp on economic issues, a fact illustrated by his continued belief that eliminating earmarks would provide enough money to balance his proposed budget. But there’s one problem, they don’t. Not by a long shot.