Is glossolalia infectious?

Asked about an AIG bailout, John McCain babbles incoherently. $5 reward for any trace of sense you can discern in his answer.

Having made fun of Sarah Palin’s discourse on untagged molecules and fungibility in the energy markets, I would be remiss (and subject to charges of sexism) if I failed to mention her male runningmate’s descent into complete incoherence:

LAUER: So if we get to the point middle of the week as we heard in that report where AIG might have to file for bankruptcy, they’re on their own?

McCAIN: Well…quote, “on their own”…we have to – we cannot have the taxpayers bail out AIG or anybody else…this is something we’re gonna have to work through – there’s too much corruption, there’s too much access, we can fix it, I believe in America – we can have a 9/11 commission such as we had after 9/11, ’cause this is a huge crisis and we can come up with fixes and we can make sure that every American has a safer future and that is to make them know that their bank deposits are safe and insured.

Tyler Cowen and Ezra Klein are critical of this passage, on the merely technical grounds that it contains no detectable trace of content.

But Tyler and Ezra fail to give credit where it’s due. McCain made one thing clear: when he says “9/11 commission,” he means a commission like “the commission we had after 9/11.” Otherwise I might have thought he meant the 9/11 commission we had after Pearl Harbor, or the 9/11 commission we had after the Kennedy Assassination, or the 9/11 commission we had after the urban riots of the late 60s. Hard to keep all those different 9/11 commissions straight. That’s why we can’t afford a President who needs on-the-job training.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: