Last week, Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) economic adviser Phil Gramm sparked controversy by stating that the U.S. is in a “mental recession” created by a “nation of whiners.” In response, McCain quickly tried to distance himself from his long-time friend’s remarks.
Today on ABC’s This Week, conservative columnist George Will acknowledged that the economy had slowed tremendously but nevertheless staunchly defended Gramm’s comments. “Phil Gramm was right of course,” Will declared. “Absolutely”:
WILL: On two points. … We’re not in a recession as commonly defined. That is two consecutive quarters of negative growth.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We may be running there though. Even Bernanke says so.
WILL: We’re not however. Unemployment is just about the post-war average at 5.5 percent. His second point that we’re a nation of whiners: we are the crybabies of the western world. In fact, we have an extraordinarily low pain threshold.
As ThinkProgress noted, Americans are hurting, not whining. But according to Will’s logic, the pain from increasing homelessness, skyrocketing health care costs, housing foreclosures up 50 percent last month, and record oil prices is simply evidence of Americans having an “extraordinarily low pain threshold.”
With his full-throated defense of Gramm’s callous remarks, Will is echoing the likes of several Fox News pundits who have also taken to defending Gramm. Last week, Sean Hannity declared, “Maybe we do whine too much.” Fred Barnes added that Americans are “whining all the way through” the bad economy.