Phil Gramm, retired Senator from Texas and advisor to the McCain campaign, put his foot in it this week in an interview with the Washington Times:
"We have sort of become a nation of whiners. You just hear this constant whining, complaining about a loss of competitiveness, America in decline," said the former Texas senator. "You've heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession." Gramm also said the media was responsible for fostering unnecessary anxiety over the state of the economy. "Misery sells newspapers," he said. "Thank God the economy is not as bad as you read in the newspaper every day."
McCain strongly disagreed with the statements after he heard them. "I don't agree with Sen. Gramm," he said. "I believe that the person here in Michigan that just lost his job isn't suffering a mental recession. I believe the mother here in Michigan and around America who is trying to get enough money to educate their children isn't whining."
McCain has been bedeviled by advisors throughout his campaign, and has been forced to constantly shake things up, firing a lobbyist here and demoting someone who mis-speaks there. It is noteworthy that the smug and self-righteous Gramm actually helped to create our current Mortgage mess while in the Senate, by virtue of his zeal to deregulate financial markets. You might wish to note that Ben Bernanke is eager to roll back those mistakes with a wave of regulations to prevent future mortgage meltdowns and future Bear Stearns collapses.
How about it, do you feel like a whiner? Have you been foreclosed yet? Suck it up, baby, when somebody gives you lemons, make lemonade! Politically speaking there is a wing of the Republican party trying to pretend that we are not entering a recession. Okay, unemployment is only 5.5%, granted. But the point is that the unemployment rate is clearly headed up, not down.
Gramm had previously been mentioned as a possible Treasury Secretary for a McCain administration. McCain joked yesterday that "I think Sen. Gramm would be in serious consideration for ambassador to Belarus, although I'm not sure the citizens of Minsk would welcome that." No kidding, Gramm is a hard guy to love sometimes. But my guess is that Gramm and McCain will be buddies again in a week or two, because Gramm represents a wing of the Republican party that McCain must cultivate, the wing that believes that unfettered and unregulated capitalism can do no wrong.