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John McCain's Economic Narrative Problem

In a vacuum, former Texas Senator and John McCain supporter Phil Gramm's remarks in today's Washington Times -- that America was in a "mental recession" when it came to the economy and that "we have sort of become a nation of whiners" -- would have almost no measurable impact on the presidential contest.

McCain quickly rejected the comments today, telling an audience that Gramm "does not speak for me." Done and done.

Or not.

Political campaigns -- especially at the presidential level -- are all about the construction of a narrative for voters; you try to create a compelling, positive storyline for yourself while building a less appealing one about your opponent.

Take the 2004 election.

Democrats sought to paint President George W. Bush as inept on a number of fronts -- ranging from major things (the way he was conducting the war in Iraq) to minor ones (his tendency to misspeak).

Republicans' strategy was to cast Sen. John Kerry as a flip-flopping, elitist who had no firm principles and looked down on the American people.

As election day approached, the GOP-preferred narrative took hold -- aided and abetted by a series of slipups from "I voted for it before I voted against it" to windsurfing and ordering swiss cheese on a cheesesteak.

In this election, the narratives of Obama and McCain are already taking shape. McCain paints himself as someone who has served the country in a variety of ways and wants to serve it one more time while casting Obama as a naive youngster, ill-equipped to handle the most important job in the world. Obama, for his part, portrays himself as a change agent ready to shake up the status quo and McCain as someone fundamentally out of touch with the worries and hopes of the average American.

Any time an event occurs on the campaign trail that reinforces one of these competing narratives, it has the potential to be a major moment in the contest.

That's why Gramm's comments could (and we emphasize could) be dangerous for McCain.

The Obama campaign is working overtime to paint McCain as clueless on the economy, a line of attack McCain himself enabled when he admitted late last year that "the issue of economics is not something I've understood as well as I should."

McCain has spent much of the remainder of the campaign -- both the primary and, now, the general election -- pushing back on those comments, insisting that while he knows more about national security and foreign policy than domestic concerns like the economy, he is still ready, willing and able to tackle the problems of the economy if elected president.

Gramm's comments complicate efforts by McCain to put his remarks about the economy behind him, and play into the preferred Democratic narrative for the election.

Obama's campaign quickly moved to capitalize.

"One of Senator McCain's top economic advisers may think that when people are struggling with lost jobs, stagnant wages and the rising cost of everything from gas to groceries, it's merely a 'mental' recession," said Obama spokesman Bill Burton. "But the American people know that our economic problems aren't just in their heads."

The message is simple: McCain and his "top" advisers don't understand (or don't care about) the economic concerns of regular people.

Gramm's comments alone won't convince voters that McCain doesn't know enough or care enough about the economy to win their vote this fall. But, what Gramm did is provide another talking point for Democrats as they seek to build their narrative against McCain. Enough future incidents like this one and the narrative will take hold. And that spells real trouble for the Arizona senator's chances.

By Chris Cillizza  |  July 10, 2008; 5:00 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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Comments

Sounds like Phil Gramm takes his cues from the Washington Post and its clueless reporting.

This story appeared on your front page less than a month ago: Why we're gloomier than the economy http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/17/AR2008061702463.html

As many of us pointed out, you folks in the Beltway are smoking stuff that those of us living the American nightmare aren't. We see what's going on:

--The Dow is nearly 3,000 points off its October high and the S&P is bear meat, while the Republicans talk about doing away with Social Security so we can put all our retirement money in the stock market!

--Major financial institutions are going to the Fed for hand-outs because they're too big to fail, but there's no help for home owners who got suckered by the same greedy bankers. (Thank you Phil Gramm and all those Beltway Free Marketeers for deregulating the banking sector.)

--And the richest 0.5% are whining about paying taxes -- just like the French aristocrats under Louis XIV. Why, only the little people pay taxes.

If you've read your history, things didn't turn out so well for France's tax dodging nobility. So, watch out Phil Gramm and all your ilk.

Posted by: LHLowe | July 13, 2008 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Barack Obama is a far left liberal Socialist who'se tax ideas are along the lines of Europe's. The Socialist European tax system is at or thereabouts of 60%. A gallon of gasoline in France, Germany, Holland, Belgium etc is about $7.00 to $8.00. In the UK it's about $9.00 a gallon. If Obama gets elected with a typical tax-and-spend Democratic Party controlled Congress, we will be paying about what the Socialist Europeans are paying. Elect Obama and you'll be wishing to be back in the great GWB-years and his great economy.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 12, 2008 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Where is the so called liberal media? No one is reporting the ties the subprime crisis have to Phil Gramm and the ties between Phil Gramm and McCain. It turns out that in late 2000 during the fiasco following the 2000 election Gramm pushed through a piece of banking legislation for the banking Industry that has lead to this sub-prime meltdown. You can guess how McCain voted on this one.

Gramm who's wife made nearly a million dollars while on the Enron board then quit the Senate and became a lobbyist for the Swiss banking giant UBS. There he has cultivated his ties to McCain. In 2005 McCain bragged to the Wall street Journal that the lobbyist Gramm was his "economic guru". McCain and Gramm's ties are deep. In 1996 McCain chaired Gramm's flop of Presidential Campaign so it must pain Gramm to be thrown under the straight talk express.

Posted by: bradcpa | July 11, 2008 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Well isn't this a blip.Mcsame has admitted
he knows nothing about the economy, and denieded it, about 10 times, but OBAMA gets bash on this site for it.Some of you people are as bad as Mcsame.The man is dump.The man is out of touch.The man is suffering from dementia.The man doesn't remember what he says from day to day, but OBAMA get bash for being brilliant.How pathetic.

Posted by: Carolyn | July 11, 2008 4:38 PM | Report abuse

John McCain has a problem with economics because he doesn't
know much about them--- he said so himself.

Posted by: janye | July 11, 2008 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Well, isn't this a pretty picture!

During the primary, so many shrieked about being offended (many of the loudest shriekers, of course, FEIGNED offense) by Obama's comments about how embittered people turn to God and guns; for such people, those comments "proved" what an elitist he is. . . I live in Appalachia, and I did think O's comments were ill-advised and unfortunate. However, I find those comments were FAR, FAR less serious and offensive than Gramm's pronouncements about "whining." Obama was guilty of some cultural insensitivity. But boys and girls, cultural insensitivity doesn't BEGIN to compare to elitist, fat-cat insensitivity about the nuts-and-bolts issues regarding the economy. I think Gramm's comments betray a REAL insensitivity to one of our most serious issues--the fact that most Americans are worse off now than they were just a few years ago and that there is REAL economic pain.

Complaining about the economy isn't whining; complaining about the economy is what we SHOULD do when so many people are hurting while the rich get richer.

Don't you dare call my concerns mere "class warfare" rhetoric! While I agree that there will always be rich and poor, I don't think that there's any rational or morally sound argument that justifies the fact that the gap between rich and poor is widening.

McCain's top economic advisor has unequivocally shown us McCain's true colors (and there was plenty of evidence before, to be sure). Still want to vote for him? Not me . . .

Who's the real elitist here? Sure, that urbanite Chicagoan Obama may not look like you, sound like you, wear the same kind of clothes as you. Unlike Dubya, he probably has never cleared any brush from his "ranch." (So do you want more of Dubya??) But I'm betting Obama gets it (how the rest of us mere mortals live, that is) far, far more than clueless, insulated-from-the-real-world McCain does.

Scream about lapel flag pins and fist jabs if you want, but here's a back-to-real-issues reminder: it's about the economy, stupid!

Posted by: old white male democrat in WV | July 11, 2008 3:33 PM | Report abuse

That is not the basis of the "Big Lie" theory. The big lie is to tell a lie so outrageous and hard to believe that is must be true because who would make something like that up.

+++++++++++
bsimon July 11 11:19AM proves the old saying that 'figures don't lie, but liars figure' and proves my earlier statement that like the Nazi's propaganda arm quote 'if you tell a lie often enough it will be believed'. His claim that the US Economy "...has been essentially stagnant for the last 9 years" is a blatant lie but typical of the revisionist history of the liberal Democrats and Obamanistas who'll do anything to win by any means neccessary, including lies and made up 'facts'.
Here are the facts.
President GWB inherreted the Clinton recession of 2001 and also had the terrorist attack on the WTC of 9/11 in the first few months in office, which cost our country anywhere from $200 billion to $800 billion dollars, depending how one figures. Our economy then took of following the Bush economic policies. Checking the GDP numbers on Google, the 'Futurist' on the US Economy had this (after the 1st Q of 2008): "Over the last 4 years the US averaged 3.5% annual GDP growth" and also had "..the unemployment rate is lower than it has been for 35 of the last 38 years".
(From USA Today-Money+Economy) For all of 2005 the US GDP average was 3.2%.
For all of 2006 the US GDP average was 3.5%.
(From Fox)
For 2007: 1Q--0.6%; 2Q--3.8%; 3Q--4.9%; 4Q--0.6%
For 2008: 1Q--1.0%

Posted by: truthbetold | July 11, 2008 2:07 PM

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2008 3:09 PM | Report abuse

McCain has two much bigger economic worries then Phil Gramm's foot-in-mouth disease. His first problem is the current occupant of the White House who has presided over this economic disaster and did more to cause it then mitigate the damage. The second McCain problem is the face in the mirror when he shaves every morning. This is now the overriding issue of this political campaign. It now dwarfs everything else. Without economic growth and stability there are very few pleasant policy options available to either candidate. McCain needs to ditch Gramm yesterday before too many nervous voters discover his complicity in the deregulation of the financial sector and connect the trail of bread crumbs back to this recession. Then he needs to find smarter, more realistic people to educate him about economics just in case he wins this thing. Personally, I'm voting for Obama. I've had it with these paleolithic Republican supply-siders.

Posted by: maxfli | July 11, 2008 3:01 PM | Report abuse

truthbetold, because I"m feeling generous, here's a chart for you that shows a 40% gain from the depths of the 2003 recession (Jan 2003) through today. Perhaps you can convince some sucker that the economy is booming with such selective data:

http://finance.google.com/finance?chdnp=1&chdd=1&chds=1&chdv=1&chvs=maximized&chdeh=0&chdet=1215547200000&chddm=535027&q=INDEXDJX:.DJI&

Posted by: bsimon | July 11, 2008 2:29 PM | Report abuse

and here's the chart showing 2.5% growth from august 1999 to today:

http://finance.google.com/finance?chdnp=1&chdd=1&chds=1&chdv=1&chvs=maximized&chdeh=0&chdet=1215547200000&chddm=882794&q=INDEXDJX:.DJI&

If that's not stagnant growth, perhaps 'truthbetold' can come up with a better example.

Of course, he selectively chooses to pick the growth shown from 2004 to today. He's picked the deep part of the trough from the last recession & stopped counting before the market really started taking a dive this year. That's what we call cherry-picking the data to make the case.

As I noted in my initial post, we have to go back to 2006 to find the point where the Dow passed 11000 last time. The first time, as I noted earlier, was in 1999. I'm not sure how 'truthbetold' can reconcile his 'continuous growth' statement with clear facts that demonstrate otherwise.

Posted by: bsimon | July 11, 2008 2:26 PM | Report abuse

truthbetold wrote
" continuously growing stock market."

But when confronted with the facts that the last 9 months have seen an 18.94% decline in the market ( http://finance.google.com/finance?chdnp=1&chdd=1&chds=1&chdv=1&chvs=maximized&chdeh=0&chdet=1215547200000&chddm=73271&q=INDEXDJX:.DJI& ), he says 'liars figure'.

I think the figures speak for themselves.

Posted by: bsimon | July 11, 2008 2:21 PM | Report abuse

bsimon July 11 11:19AM proves the old saying that 'figures don't lie, but liars figure' and proves my earlier statement that like the Nazi's propaganda arm quote 'if you tell a lie often enough it will be believed'. His claim that the US Economy "...has been essentially stagnant for the last 9 years" is a blatant lie but typical of the revisionist history of the liberal Democrats and Obamanistas who'll do anything to win by any means neccessary, including lies and made up 'facts'.
Here are the facts.
President GWB inherreted the Clinton recession of 2001 and also had the terrorist attack on the WTC of 9/11 in the first few months in office, which cost our country anywhere from $200 billion to $800 billion dollars, depending how one figures. Our economy then took of following the Bush economic policies. Checking the GDP numbers on Google, the 'Futurist' on the US Economy had this (after the 1st Q of 2008): "Over the last 4 years the US averaged 3.5% annual GDP growth" and also had "..the unemployment rate is lower than it has been for 35 of the last 38 years".
(From USA Today-Money+Economy) For all of 2005 the US GDP average was 3.2%.
For all of 2006 the US GDP average was 3.5%.
(From Fox)
For 2007: 1Q--0.6%; 2Q--3.8%; 3Q--4.9%; 4Q--0.6%
For 2008: 1Q--1.0%

Posted by: truthbetold | July 11, 2008 2:07 PM | Report abuse

He sure picked a real winner to co-chair his campaign. Phil Gramm is the guy who lobbied on behalf of financial big dog UBS against regulations that would have prevented the housing foreclosure crisis. He's got some more of the cream of the crop backing him. And then there's that vicious temper of his. Some real real unique and colorful info here about McCain and Obama here. Check it out sometime.

http://warofillusions.wordpress.com/2008/04/18/buyer-beware/

Posted by: Stefan | July 11, 2008 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Ok, gas prices are up 30% y/y, food prices are up 10% y/y, the number of americans working is down and the average income of Americans is down, many people look at their retirement savings and find the bottom line down 15-25%. Housing foreclosures are up 50% y/y and housing prices are down 5-20%. The deficit is soaring and the dollar is falling.

I guess this is all an illusion. At least to McCain and his affluent Republican friends. And the country wants 4 more years of this. I HOPE NOT

Posted by: nclwtk | July 11, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

OBAMA: Blinder, Mankiw, Soros, Voelcker and Buffett

McCAIN: Fiorina (right up the with the most infamous CEOs in US business historu), Tom Coburn (anti-abortion zealot with no economic credentials whatsoever), Phil Gramm (please).

On economic teams, it's not even close. And given that McCain's only claim to foreign policy expertise is having been a POW and always pro-war, it's not close on foreign policy either.

Obama's going to put up a HUGE number, on the order of 390 electoral votes.

Posted by: DexterManley | July 11, 2008 1:34 PM | Report abuse

They don't, it is an insulting term for black women. The person using it is just some "Limp dick" who is intimated by a strong and successful woman. It says more about the poster then what they think they are saying about Mrs. Obama. I suspect when not on this site are searching gay porn.

===========
As the most cursory of internet searches will tell you, Michelle Obama's middle name is not "Shaniqua."

I wonder why someone would say that it was?

Who says racism in America is dead?

Posted by: er | July 11, 2008 2:55 AM

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

McCain says Phil Gramm does not speak for him. I guess I can accept that. But, aside from Dr. Gramm (PhD Economics) McCain doesn't have an economic program. So, with McCain, on the economy, you're Grammed if you do, Grammed if you don't.

Posted by: Stalin's Crayon | July 11, 2008 12:04 PM | Report abuse

With a nod to the poster who mentioned Gov. Pawlenty, this is one Minnesotan who won't be tempted to vote for the ticket if he's on it. Wants to repeal a safetynet for healthcare, MinCare, vetoed a big transportation bill, only to be overridden, and other sins too numerous to mention. Not crazy about the dems' candidates, or should I say DFL to prove my local bona fides, but let's keep Gov. Timn occupied on the campaign trail where he can't do as much damage to the state.

Posted by: Max Swanson | July 11, 2008 11:58 AM | Report abuse

McCain, himself, called Gramm one of his two top advisers on the economy.
And this slip toward frankness wasn't the fault of some out-of-touch scholar.
Both McCain's listed economic advisers are politicians. He doesn't seem to have any advisers who have studied economics.

Posted by: Frank Palmer | July 11, 2008 11:29 AM | Report abuse

truthbetold writes
"While the US economy has some problems, it's basically in exellent shape with what's consitered full employment, growth, and a continuously growing stock market."

Huh? What data are you looking at? The Dow, to pick a popular index, is down 18% since October. To find 'gain' in the market, we have to go back to September of 2006, which basically means the last [nearly] two years of gains have been wiped out. Of course, the market first topped 11,000 in 1999 - nine years ago - which gives us a 2.35%, using the moment's 11,043 value for the dollar. Truth be told, truthbetold, the economy has been essentially stagnant for the past 9 years, if we're using the Dow to measure it.

Posted by: bsimon | July 11, 2008 11:19 AM | Report abuse

The nation has finally woken up and realized NOTHING HAS TRICKLED DOWN. When that WALL came down, wealth flew from the 'HAVES' (americans) to 'HAVE NOTs' (ROW).

Posted by: | July 10, 2008 11:18 PM

Well, *something* trickled down.

Posted by: aleks | July 11, 2008 11:13 AM | Report abuse

I agree with a few responders here that the Gramm story is a potential political "landmine" for McCain. Even though many media outlets are pushing the distraction of Jackson's comments about Obama as front page political news of late, the real long term story that will do political damage to McCain's campaign will be Phil Gramm's comments tied into McCain's voting record and comments.

It wasn't that long ago when McCain admitted on camera that he didn't know much about the economy. But in that same piece, McCain mentioned that he will be depending upon others like Phil Gramm to learn about the economy.

I definitely see a pattern in McCain's understanding of the economy. It was only two months ago when McCain called for a gas tax holiday and then later admitted it was mainly for "psychological relief". And now we all see Gramm's comments ("Mental recession") mirror McCain's comments.

McCain and his campaign are out-of-touch with ordinary working Americans! Obama and his campaign needs to keep pushing this story to the forefront of the political media as much as they can. It is too big to let slip away.

Posted by: Obama-Junkie | July 11, 2008 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Obama is the one you had better steer clear of regarding economics during the election. For all of you SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS out there....please read this article from Politico:

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0708/11670.html

In an Obama Administration, anyone with a small business reporting income of $250,000 or more, will end up paying 50% in taxes !

Posted by: Julie in Georgia | July 11, 2008 8:35 AM | Report abuse

The truth is the McCain TEAM does not understand economics. Here we have Gramm (from one of the few households to make money off Enron where his wife was one of teh Board members during the skullduggery) throwing scorn at the average American's economic woes. Previously we had both Tim Pawlenty and ace businessperson Carly Fiorina state flatly on Sunday talk shows that a change in the capital gains tax would raise taxes for everyone with a 401(k). Neither of these detached millionaires realize that 401(k)'s are treated as ordinary income, not capital gains. Or they were lying. Take your choice - ignorant or dishonest. Either way Team McCain is not prepared to address the economic problems of the vast majority of Americans because Team McCain simply does not understand or appreciate those problems.

Posted by: Pragmatist | July 11, 2008 7:23 AM | Report abuse

Re: DDAWD

You copied my writing style. Your PR Team makes me sick. Please stop.

Posted by: Premier | July 11, 2008 7:11 AM | Report abuse

Chris, you are way slow. You do not read WP? Why is it an issue?

"Honesty is the best policy especially when you are involved in 'a war of words' with someone who lies." This is what I said yesterday.

Please give us an issue to debate. Go back to your original style in that you asked a question based on facts or empirical data.

Posted by: Premier | July 11, 2008 7:09 AM | Report abuse

I have been scanning major newspaper sites this morning. To my surprise, those sites that are opting to have a home page presidential campaign story this morning, a relative minority, are still talking about private comments by a jealous semi-supporter critical of Obama but are NOT talking about the "mental recession...nation of whiners" comments by McCain's TOP economic campaign OFFICIAL or McCain's insulting, lame attempt at humor about the comments. I note that Drudge is headlining the unaired supporter's comments at the top of his page, but the Gramm-McCain flap is well down the list of stories. Thankfully the TV outlets are giving it play, but it sure looks like the dead-tree media has ceded its news and editorial judgment to Matt Drudge, and the continued emphasis on Obama and Jackson is simply fueling the impression of thinking readers that the corporate dead-tree media is fully in the tank for McCain. What the hell is going on in this country?

Posted by: flarrfan | July 11, 2008 6:26 AM | Report abuse

"If Obama had accepted McCain's town hall proposals we would be talking about the candidates instead of Jesse Jackson and Phil Gramm."

He did accept. Just not to do TEN. McCain wants either ten or nothing. He's not interested in the town halls. It's just a political stunt.

Posted by: DDAWD | July 11, 2008 5:35 AM | Report abuse

Incompetent? Obama? McCain can't even remember when he votes or not. He criticizes Obama for not voting on a bill today and claims he voted on it...until proof comes out that he did not vote. McCain is either a liar or becoming senile.

Besides, could you really vote for a guy who would call his current wife "c*nt" in public some 15 years ago? true story.

He is losing his bearings and is not capable of being president either by age or temperment.

Posted by: Brad | July 11, 2008 4:20 AM | Report abuse

Hey, RNC -- you should ask for your money back. The guy posting as "Mike" and "Sean" and "obama the teflon candidate" shouldn't get full payment for all 3 vile stupid posts as they're just cut & paste jobs. Cut his stipend by 1/2 ok?
Phil Gramm has been McCain's buddy for 25 years -- this is classic Gramm, classic bully McCain. Now, do you really want to have to be explaining this kind of inane commentary from yet another Repug administration for another 4 years after 8 years of "nucular" idiocy?

Posted by: straight talk my a** | July 11, 2008 3:47 AM | Report abuse

Obama isn't a trained economist.

Obama has ZERO background in economics.

Obama is illiterate in economics he admitted he is illiterate dealing with numbers.

Posted by: Mike | July 11, 2008 3:20 AM | Report abuse

Obama is illiterate using numbers.

Obama has ZERO background on economics.

McCain was the chairman of the commerce commitee.

Obama has no background with economics.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2008 3:19 AM | Report abuse

Obama has admitted he is terrible with numbers.

Obama said there were 57 states.

Obama said 10,000 people died in a tornado in kansas.

Obama said 100 million died in burma.

Posted by: Obama the teflon candidate | July 11, 2008 3:17 AM | Report abuse

Obama bashes small town americans to a closed fundraiser to billionaires in san francisco.

Obama calls them racist, anti immigrant, bashes them for being anti trade, clinging to gods and guns.

So people want to vote for Obama because Phil Gramm said something.


How about holding up the candidates man to man.


Obama has said insensitive remarks in a closed fundraiser in san francisco while Mccain hasn't.

If Obama had accepted McCain's town hall proposals we would be talking about the candidates instead of Jesse Jackson and Phil Gramm.


This is the worst covered election in the history of our country.

Obama is teflon. He bashes americans and people want to vote for him.


Phil Gramm says something and everyone is now saying they won't vote for Mccain.


Worst election in the history of this nation.


Lets just call the election off because the american people can't stand John McCain.


Posted by: Sean | July 11, 2008 3:12 AM | Report abuse

As the most cursory of internet searches will tell you, Michelle Obama's middle name is not "Shaniqua."

I wonder why someone would say that it was?

Who says racism in America is dead?

Posted by: er | July 11, 2008 2:55 AM | Report abuse

McneedsaCain has no one on his staff who isn't old and a lobbyist or former lobbyist. Maybe the whole lot will pass away soon. God willing.

Posted by: tanaS | July 11, 2008 12:15 AM | Report abuse

McCain is ineligible to be President.
http://www.nytimes.com/pages/politics/index.html

Posted by: ghet | July 11, 2008 12:04 AM | Report abuse

To people wondering why McCain didn't have the sense to stay away from Gramm, keep in mind he also didn't know better than to ally himself with Hagee and Parsley. His campaign is dead in the water. He's not up to this any longer if he ever was and it's really showing. His complete fumbling of a question today about insurance coverage for birth control is another example. It's over.

Posted by: JohnL | July 10, 2008 11:50 PM | Report abuse

The Jesse Jackson story is a COMPLETE PLOY PREPLANNED AND CREATED AT OBAMA HEADQUARTERS.

It is pathetic.

The purpose of this pathetic exercise is to attempt to convince people that Jesse Jackson is a radical black leader and somehow Obama is a moderate black person and therefor OK, when actually that is a complete lie.

If anything, Jesse Jackson is the more moderate of the two by far.

This is unbelievable. Throw Jesse Jackson under the bus why don't you. Obama is a pathetic little liar who will do anything and say anything to lie to people and deceive them into voting for him.


Is this a post-racial candidate?

What bothers me about Obama is not that he is black but that he reminds me of Bill Clinton. Some guy skating by, lying his way through women, wine and politics. Seriously folks, if Obama came to you for a job interview, wouldn't you cut it short and thank him for his time? Obama is a worthless pathetic lying flip-flopping Empty Suit Slimy Fish. It is amazing how bad the people coming out of affirmative actions programs are - however if one draws conclusions from Obama, affirmative action is a complete failure - having produced the weakest set of people since the 1962 Mets. Obama and his team are so bad, it is difficult to find a proper analogy.

.

Posted by: 37th&OStreet | July 10, 2008 11:48 PM | Report abuse

The Jesse Jackson story is a COMPLETE PLOY PREPLANNED AND CREATED AT OBAMA HEADQUARTERS.

It is pathetic.

The purpose of this pathetic exercise is to attempt to convince people that Jesse Jackson is a radical black leader and somehow Obama is a moderate black person and therefor OK, when actually that is a complete lie.

If anything, Jesse Jackson is the more moderate of the two by far.

This is unbelievable. Throw Jesse Jackson under the bus why don't you. Obama is a pathetic little liar who will do anything and say anything to lie to people and deceive them into voting for him.


Is this a post-racial candidate?

What bothers me about Obama is not that he is black but that he reminds me of Bill Clinton. Some guy skating by, lying his way through women, wine and politics. Seriously folks, if Obama came to you for a job interview, wouldn't you cut it short and thank him for his time? Obama is a worthless pathetic lying flip-flopping Empty Suit Slimy Fish. It is amazing how bad the people coming out of affirmative actions programs are - however if one draws conclusions from Obama, affirmative action is a complete failure - having produced the weakest set of people since the 1962 Mets. Obama and his team are so bad, it is difficult to find a proper analogy.

.

Posted by: 37th&OStreet | July 10, 2008 11:39 PM | Report abuse

Gramm is correct and it's the liberal Democrats and the Democratic Party-controlled MSM that's doing the lying and spinning. While the US economy has some problems, it's basically in exellent shape with what's consitered full employment, growth, and a continuously growing stock market. Like the Nazi's propaganda arms saying that if you tell a lie often enough it will be believed, so to is the Democratic Party's and the MSM's bad economy political talking points. In order to get Democrats elected they need to convince the American people that our economy is tanking when in fact it's in very good condition.

Posted by: truthbetold | July 10, 2008 11:36 PM | Report abuse

The nation has finally woken up and realized NOTHING HAS TRICKLED DOWN. When that WALL came down, wealth flew from the 'HAVES' (americans) to 'HAVE NOTs' (ROW).

Posted by: Anonymous | July 10, 2008 11:18 PM | Report abuse

Gramm, Helms, Gore Sr., Thurmond, Lott, et al these are/were White men who have the mindset of the 1800's.

Except they were NOT like Lincoln, who was actually in the LIBERAL PARTY during his time, with Conservative White Democrats in the south being the ones who impeded him every step of the way.

Of course, the two parties switched roles just right before the onset of the FDR's socialist movement, with all constipated, White Conservative and Dixiecrats leaving the Democratic Party to join with the Republican Party, while Liberals and prosgressives from the Republican Party switching to the Liberal-Socialist-Democratic Party.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 10, 2008 11:13 PM | Report abuse

It is not simply what McCain as an individual states, it is also the whole Republican Party. . . . . . AND, Phil Gramm was one of the biggest supporters of deregulation. Now, we have an economy that is a run-away freight-train going down hill; all the while, the conductor is telling us, "it's all in our heads." And in whose head, the passengers or the engineers, doesn't matter -- we're going down hill because of deregulation. . . . . . . Although, the incompetency of the Republicans to give us a decent Presidential admistration for the last seven and a half years is also a problem, amoung others.

Which leads to this: . . When the Republicans quote Thomas Jefferson, "Government governs best that governs least," the Republicans (who bare no resemblence to Jefferson) don't mean that for you and me. The Republicans want government to be all in our hair; they want to impose their moral authority upon the individual American citizen at the point of a gun more than anything, more even than the Democrats. . . . . What the Republicans really mean is, "Government governs best that governs Corporations (the dukes and barrons of our time) least.

John, you sold America down the river for the Republican Party.

Posted by: Coldcomfort | July 10, 2008 11:03 PM | Report abuse

Phil Gramm is just a toxic waste dump of a human being. If McCain had any sense he would never have gotten within a 100 miles of him.

Posted by: John | July 10, 2008 11:00 PM | Report abuse

McCain needs to cut Phil Gramm loose from any affiliation and consultation with the Republican's campaign.

Gramm was a nasty, arrogant Senator, and he hasn't changed a bit.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 10, 2008 10:59 PM | Report abuse

it's foolish to think any republican would be willing to help the average american. this coming from a repub backer. if anyone is acting elite, it's Mcain. now is the time to mobilize against the corperate government stylings of the repub party. I thought at one point deregulation was the way to go. company heads have proven to be more deceptive than I thought. the fleecing of america has just begun. someone help us!

Posted by: pattongreg | July 10, 2008 10:53 PM | Report abuse

Ka-Boom! That was the sound of McCain's campaign exploding. He may as well have said "Let them eat cake!"

Is McCain out of touch, or an elitist? Take your pick. He loses either way.

Posted by: scrapster

==========

Indeed. BTW, McCain response was something about sending Gramm to Belarus?? Not sure what he meant by that but it sounds totally ignorant and insulting to the Belarusans. This guy is losing it.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 10, 2008 10:25 PM | Report abuse

Here's the difference between Democrats and Republicans on this board. Democrats will soon get tired of Phil Gramm's idiocy and move along to something else, whereas Republicons will keep pounding on the same intentionally distorted slip of the tongue mercilessly until election day.
Posted by: hesingswithfrogs
=======

The voters have finally wised up to the Repub's sleazy tatics. It won't work this time. The more they spew their lies, the more the voters get turned off. The GOP is doomed.

Posted by: HonestAbe | July 10, 2008 10:21 PM | Report abuse

Ka-Boom! That was the sound of McCain's campaign exploding. He may as well have said "Let them eat cake!"

Is McCain out of touch, or an elitist? Take your pick. He loses either way.

Posted by: scrapster | July 10, 2008 10:18 PM | Report abuse

Sub-prime Candidate with sub-prime advisor. Of course Graham joined an investment bank, just like Rubin joined Citi after getting rid of Glass Seagall.

"The scandal dates to back December 2000, when McCain economic advisor, former Sen. Phil Graham, then chair of the Senate Finance Committee, slipped in a loophole, attached to an 11,000-page appropriations bill in the wee hours of the morning during the Christmas recess.

The loophole deregulated oversight by the Federal Reserve of the commodity indexes and commodity futures markets, and the result led immediately to the worst excesses of the Enron scandal.

But it has now spilled over to the current housing bubble collapse, financed by sub-prime mortgages that were repackaged and marketed by unregulated hedge funds, and onto current exploding oil, gas and food prices."

http://www.fcnp.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3221:nicholas-f-benton-silence-protects-the-speculators&catid=17:national-commentary&Itemid=79

Posted by: Anonymous | July 10, 2008 10:17 PM | Report abuse

Here's the difference between Democrats and Republicans on this board. Democrats will soon get tired of Phil Gramm's idiocy and move along to something else, whereas Republicons will keep pounding on the same intentionally distorted slip of the tongue mercilessly until election day.

Posted by: hesingswithfrogs | July 10, 2008 10:13 PM | Report abuse

>>>>> It's said his daughter placed a profile on a famous dating site,"""""" Tallchat.com """""",seeking boyfriends.
>>>>> But I don't think so,maybe he just want men's tickets!!!!

Posted by: Steven | July 10, 2008 10:12 PM | Report abuse

The GOP was already having serious credibility problems. This incident only makes things worse. This totally plays into the stereotype that the Republicans are clueless and cold-hearted and care little about the sufferings of the masses. McCain better dump Gramm ASAP or this will be just another straw about to break the back of the failing GOP.

Posted by: HonestAbe | July 10, 2008 10:01 PM | Report abuse


A thug. Phil Gramm is and always has been

loud mouth, nasty, irassible thug.

You might want to look at his record at UBS, AND you might not want, if you're squemish, to sit in a room where McCain and Gramm were holding forth. Ugly.

Posted by: been there | July 10, 2008 9:58 PM | Report abuse

Cindy McCain is a clueless "trollop" and "c*nt" (her husband's words).

Posted by: RealityCheck | July 10, 2008 9:51 PM | Report abuse

Phil Gramm is a pathetic loser. Why on earth did McCain chose him for his adviser??? Another dumb decision from the McIdiot.

Posted by: HonestAbe | July 10, 2008 9:49 PM | Report abuse


Well, but you know

we all do (would like to) identify with Cindy McCain and her $$three quarter mill monthly credit card bills.

What do you suppose a day of that wardrobe costs? Not the glassy eyed stare and the bumbling along sometimes, but the clothes? Bet she doesn't whine. About that.

Posted by: L'il cindy | July 10, 2008 9:48 PM | Report abuse

George W has been suffering from mental recession since the seventies.

Posted by: Shove it | July 10, 2008 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Republicans do not understand the economic and health care issues that tens of millions of ordinary persons have to deal with in this country because their primary agenda is helping the rich and corporations. They are therefore out of touch with the most important concerns of most people.

The only way Republicans can win is by distracting enough voters with trivial or phony "issues" to fool them into voting for the GOP, the grand oil company. They succeeded with this cynical strategy in elections four and six years ago, but failed two years ago, as a majority of voters had finally awakened.

Posted by: Independent | July 10, 2008 9:29 PM | Report abuse

I live in Texas and have always been ashamed of Phil Gramm. Folks do your own research, go to the library and take a look at what an SOB this guy is.

Posted by: Westexacan | July 10, 2008 9:29 PM | Report abuse

Phil Gramm was an odious figure when he was in the Senate. I'm shocked McCain would listen to this moron. Maybe Gramm should get off his pink a** and walk the country. Not everyone is able to trade in a revolting failure of a Senate career to become Vice Chairman at UBS, a big ripoff swiss bank whose biggest business is illegally tax sheltering money for the mega wealthy in the United States, and has hemmoraged money due to their schemes gone bad....Gramm has a Phd in economics: so what...he's still a thief. Gramm is disgusting...nice choice McCain.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 10, 2008 9:26 PM | Report abuse

A typical Republican out of touch with the real WORLD.!!!!!!!!!!! WE NEED CHANGE!!!!!

Posted by: Dah | July 10, 2008 9:10 PM | Report abuse

gramm's comment wasn't just another of those "gotcha" gaffes tabloid-cable runs amok with. if he is an adviser to mccain and is so insulated from the real america he cannot see that not only inflation, but "stagflation" is here and has been for quite a while, then mccain, and we if he is elected, has a real problem. this is herbert hoover all over again. we who are not rich have known, as this site said more than a month ago: www.straightrecord.com/randomrants, that we need to practice "trickle-up" economics so we can see the problem in time. and has anyone watched what is happening in other countries because of oil prices? somebody needs to act.

Posted by: rapswork | July 10, 2008 9:10 PM | Report abuse

H*ly Cr*p! Obama tied with McCain in North Dakota. From Rasmussen:

North Dakota is as safe a Republican state as any in Presidential elections. George W. Bush carried the state by twenty-seven points in Election 2004 and twenty-eight points four years earlier. The state has voted for a Democratic Presidential candidate just once since 1936 and three times since 1916. Despite that history, John McCain and Barack Obama are tied in the latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of North Dakota voters. Both men earn 43% of the vote.

Posted by: HonestAbe | July 10, 2008 9:07 PM | Report abuse

The problem is that the Rich ARE getting richer during this economic downturn. No wonder those rich folks, like Gramm think the rest of us plebes are whiners. THEY simply don't feel the impact in their own wallets.

Gramm's statements aren't a fleeting idea, they are a symptom of the greater ill in this country. Where the top 1% have become so disproportionately rich that they are forming a roadblock to opportunity for anyone and everyone else.

The Republican version of "Hope" is that in the free market anyone can build their own dreams. But the super-rich are distorting the free market into a collection of monopolistic fiefdoms where competition is crushed through the super-rich's massive economic advantage.

It becomes harder and harder every year for the individual to build their own dreams, but the 1% on top think we're all whiners, because THEY made their fortune already.

Posted by: Nixon | July 10, 2008 8:57 PM | Report abuse

McCain has some real class acts advising him -- Charlie "hoping for a terrorist attack" Black and Phil "Americans are whiners" Gramm. Pathetic.

Posted by: HonestAbe | July 10, 2008 8:57 PM | Report abuse

The "whining" has just begun. Just wait till homeowners see their first heating bills this winter.

Posted by: HonestAbe | July 10, 2008 8:55 PM | Report abuse

Phil Gramm is McCain's chief economic advisor and is repsonsible for legislation that caused the sub prime mortgage crises and Enron loophole. If you want to see our country totally destroyed, vote for McCain. Now, Gramm calls us whiners. Gee, think he might be feeling the heat for our economic recession? Now McCain is throwing him under the bus. Question is, why was the fromer Senator Gramm who is more than any other single individual responsible for the mess we are in McCain's chief economic advisor to begin with?

Posted by: MYSPACE | July 10, 2008 8:51 PM | Report abuse

Phil Gramm is McCain's chief economic advisor and is repsonsible for legislation that caused the sub prime mortgage crises and Enron loophole. If you want to see our country totally destroyed, vote for McCain. Now, Gramm calls us whiners. Gee, think he might be feeling the heat for our economic recession? Now McCain is throwing him under the bus. Question is, why was the fromer Senator Gramm who is more than any other single individual responsible for the mess we are in McCain's chief economic advisor to begin with?

Posted by: MYSPACE | July 10, 2008 8:50 PM | Report abuse

Why don't we save ourselves the trouble of impeaching McCain & company for incompetence and not elect them in the first place. All in our mind? Drive around Southern California and see the vast areas of commercial buildings that are vacant or the abandoned construction projects and ask yourself - "Are these vacant buildings really there?" McCain & Co. needs to work on their mental world, not ours. Of course, theirs is just a continuation of Bush's make-believe world.

Posted by: Francis | July 10, 2008 8:45 PM | Report abuse

Wayne, my friend, what a wonderful analysis. I look forward to breaking bread with you as we overlook your vast estate in [fill in the blank]. And by the way I would be happy to accept any free cruises and offers to give 15 min. speeches for a couple thou. Tut Tut But of course this recession is imaginary.

Posted by: BroderJr. | July 10, 2008 8:39 PM | Report abuse

Dear Guy Living in Box (Ret.):

Well said. Hang in there. Maybe you should think about going to Iraq. I hear there is plenty of money and "work" there and will continue that way if McCain is POTUS.

Posted by: HonestAbe | July 10, 2008 8:38 PM | Report abuse

I am not a "whinner". I am angry and very frightened about the future of my country. Phil Gramm is an insensitive a**. McCain should fire him! Obama will now win the election - unless he says something equally stupid.

Posted by: Lee | July 10, 2008 8:38 PM | Report abuse

In response to:
"McCain was the chairman of the commerce committee. McCain dealt with every major economic issue."

Humm. Didn't McCain say either end of last year or early this year that he perhaps isn't as "smart" on the U.S. economy as perhaps he should be? Google it; read for yourself. He reminds me a lot of Senior Bush. Great with foreign policy but pretty lightfeathered about the concerns and realities of *real* everyday Americans just trying to earn a living and raise their families. That's disturbing, especially considering the current economy.


"Obama is a lawyer not a businessman."

Here's a homework assignment for you: look up every U.S. senator and representative and see how many are LAWYERS. You might be surprised.


"McCain talks all the time how americans are struggling."

I met a man in the airport just yesterday, a guy from Scotland, who talked the whole flight about the state of the U.S. economy and how we're all struggling. Guess we should elect HIM president.


Posts like the doofus I quoted make me think everyone should NOT have the "right" to vote. There should be a basic intelligence test you have to pass first.


Posted by: Boona1 | July 10, 2008 8:36 PM | Report abuse

I just don't know why McCain or any of his supporters should be worried by this. Republicans, followed closely by a good portion of the general public (or was that redundent?), are probably the stupidest, most gullible people on earth. I mean, these are the people who voted for Bush Jr because he was the kind of guy they could see at a backyard BBQ? LOL!!! These same fools who say Obama lacks experience. 'Kay. Compare actual length of service IN government between Obama and Bush Junior. (Of course, it's hard to overlook the fact that any Bush can get elected, unless he has Down syndrome, given the family's political background.) McCain woofs out repeatedly that Obama will raise taxes. Okay, looking at past 20 years, WHICH party has been responsible for the biggest tax increases? The biggest increases in government overall?

But McCain deserves to win. This is a country of fairly stupid people who deserve to be led by stupidity. It's worked so far. Right?

Posted by: Boona1 | July 10, 2008 8:30 PM | Report abuse

McCain was the chairman of the commerce committee. McCain dealt with every major economic issue.

Obama has ZERO experience with the economy.

Obama has admitted he is terrible with numbers. The media never talks about that.

Obama is a lawyer not a businessman.


Obama makes gaffes with numbers all the time.

Obama said there were 57 states.

Obama said 10,000 people died in a tornado in kansas.

Obama said 100 million died in Burma.


Obama has Zero experience on economic matters.


This election isn't about substance.

Obama looked down at voters who are economically depressed during the closed san francisco fundraiser.

McCain talks all the time how americans are struggling.

Posted by: Wayne | July 10, 2008 8:28 PM | Report abuse

It's good to know that is caviar -- not cat food -- I'm eating. And that I'm not really living in a cardboard box in the alley. And that I'm not really using yesterday's newspaper as my t-shirt. I am really just fine and I will stop whining. See you at the 1st tee tomorrow, Phil.

Posted by: Guy Living in Box (Ret.) | July 10, 2008 8:21 PM | Report abuse

Texas this Texas that. Bush Bush. Gramm. Texas. Texas. Texas. McCain. Texas.

Don't mess with Texas? How about don't let Texas mess with the US.

Posted by: Frank Booth | July 10, 2008 8:19 PM | Report abuse

after 8 years of GOP rule, we are in a mental recession for the first time in our history...

Well, a good reason not to vote the GOP again!

Posted by: stearm | July 10, 2008 8:14 PM | Report abuse

Phil Gramm, like Guiliani, Liebermann, and Zell Miller, is one of those ex-Dems that the party shouts out a collective "good riddance" to. While economists are still debating about whether or not it's technically a recession yet, it's certainly a downtown in the economy. If I'm not mistaken, Gramm also whines like your average Texas Repub about federal spending, but has received a million dollars in state/federal benefits, throughout his life. I'm not in favor of politicizing every GD comment that a candidate's advisers make, but as George Carlin said, some people are just plain stupid. Dems should run with this one. Link McCain's "I'm no economist" with Gramm's "mental recession." If there's a recession on the horizon and neither McCain nor the people who advise him know anything about the economy, why should he be in the White House? Reagan didn't know jack about politics, but he surrounded himself with a fairly solid cabinet. What's McSame's fresh, new solution? "I've read Greenspan's book." Great. McCain's solution is to implement the same reckless policies that contributed to the recession, and Gramm wants to blame people who actually work for a living.

Posted by: Dr. Don Key | July 10, 2008 8:14 PM | Report abuse

But what if we bring back the guillotine?

Only this time we'll use lazars with a much slower and precise fall rate.

Do you smell something burning?
Don't worry, you won't in a minute.

Posted by: French Revolution 2.0 | July 10, 2008 8:11 PM | Report abuse

Look you idiots, us Republicans are just getting richer because I passed the law that deregulated energy commodities. You know, that Enron clause.

All of us that know about the economy, after all I have my PhD, use the government to fatten our own pockets at your expense. You idiots have no clue. You are just stupid cattle placidly chewing your cud so that we can steal you blind.

We, the rich elitist Republicans, really see you all as nothing more than peasants and chattle. We own you because of all your debt and that you have to pay the prices we can manipulate so high.

We can make you so poor you can't send your kids to college and you and your kids will keep just making us richer. Life is great! Don't delude yourself into thinking the economy sucks.

It works for me and my buddies... Bush, McCain, and I.

Phil Gramm's narrative (the untold truth)

Posted by: Phil Gramm | July 10, 2008 8:01 PM | Report abuse

Hoorah for Phil Graham for being plain spoken ... A PhD in economics gives you a certain amount of rational perspective on the US economy ...

This isn't what the press wants to hear ... bashing the poor victims of our society, who didn't deserve mortgages in the first place but, were entitled to one anyway...

Please, no one mention the white collar criminals on Wall Street who made hundreds of millions brokering porfolios of lousy loans ...

Or the crooked mortgage brokers who worked very hard to issue "liar loans" ...

Or the real estate appraisers who were "forced" to over-inflate the value of homes to keep the realtors' business (never mind ethics)...

It's somehow all the government's fault that this cadre of criminals got into trouble ...

So Graham is being blasted for thinking from an economist's point of view instead of the socialist view that the government must take care of everybody ... including the banks and the criminals who conspired in a web of lies to push incredibly feeble loans out into the marketplace ...

P.S. I love all of the mean spirited comments on this post ... from folks who believe if you don't agree with moveon.org on every single issue ... you don't deserve the common courtesy of being entitled to an opinion of your own ...
Haven't been this many small minded people around since the Third Riech!!!

Posted by: Larry the Libertarian | July 10, 2008 8:01 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure from the Country Club, the economic picture looks great. If only us plebians would stop "whining" so much and go back to the salt mines, the GOP Multi-Millionaires could go back to engineering the upward redistribution of wealth.

Posted by: BBpd | July 10, 2008 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Phil Gramm helped UBS lose billions - and suddenly he is an authority on the economy - calling the average american whiners....Gramm is the epitome of the Republican /Bush / McCain economic incompetence. More of the same is a tired but true refrain with these clowns.

Posted by: Steve L | July 10, 2008 7:53 PM | Report abuse

If you want to know the truth about Phil Gramm and his role not only in McCain's campaign but the current housing and banking meltdown, read David Corn's article 'Foreclosure Phil' in Mother Jones:

http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2008/07/foreclosure-phil.html

Here's the first paragraph:

"Who's to blame for the biggest financial catastrophe of our time? There are plenty of culprits, but one candidate for lead perp is former Sen. Phil Gramm. Eight years ago, as part of a decades-long anti-regulatory crusade, Gramm pulled a sly legislative maneuver that greased the way to the multibillion-dollar subprime meltdown. Yet has Gramm been banished from the corridors of power? Reviled as the villain who bankrupted Middle America? Hardly. Now a well-paid executive at a Swiss bank, Gramm cochairs Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign and advises the Republican candidate on economic matters. He's been mentioned as a possible Treasury secretary should McCain win. That's right: A guy who helped screw up the global financial system could end up in charge of US economic policy. Talk about a market failure."

Posted by: pali2500 | July 10, 2008 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Gramm is not some campaign staffer. He is a 3-term former US Senator from Texas with a Phd in economics. He is McCain's chief economic adviser. His point was technically correct, but politically moronic and economically insensitive.

Yes, the paltry 1% growth rate of the 1Q 2008 was not recessionary, but it was nothing to crow about. It also could be masking deeper problems from large segments of society. If 20% of Americans enjoy 5% growth, while 80% experience -2%, the 1% net does not help the vast majority. The nation is not "in a recession", but most Americans are seeing their economic fortunes recede.

This is not a minor point. It shows a deep ideological misunderstanding of the plight many Americans face today. It also could really blow up if BEA announces a real economic decline in 2Q at the end of July.

Posted by: AxelDC | July 10, 2008 7:53 PM | Report abuse

McCain and Phil are rich. Plain and simple - they don't feel the pain that we do because of the economy. McCain was just in Las Vegas and wanted to play Craps at the high roller tables. His staff wouldn't let him. He doesn't get it and Phillo doesn't either. Let's see, elitists perhaps?

Elitists so out of touch that they think we are all have psychological problems to believe the economy is bad, but then if you have your millions invested in oil commodities because you helped deregulate them I guess you are just getting richer and making us poorer. Shame on us for noticing!!!

Posted by: Mike in Sac | July 10, 2008 7:53 PM | Report abuse

John McCain's calling Social Security payments to retirees using the funds of current workers "a disgrace" is actually astounding. On the surface, it means that he doesn't even know that that is the specific mechanism upon which the program was built and it has ALWAYS worked that way. Essentially, his statement is that the entire Social Security system is a disgrace. Of course, he doesn't need the money since he dumped his first wife in favor of his current prettier and wealthier spouse.

Posted by: Diana Powe | July 10, 2008 7:49 PM | Report abuse

Amb. (Ret.) P. Dumbarton Oakley IV, I agree.

Posted by: Master of the Universe (Ret.) | July 10, 2008 7:49 PM | Report abuse

It isn't as if Gramm is just some fringe supporter. He's McCain's chief economic advisor, and these comments reveal his basic callousness toward and disconnect from the reality of ordinary Americans. It doesn't speak well for McCain's judgment or leadership that he relies so heavily upon someone with this attitude.

Beyond that, I'm not entirely convinced that Gramm's comments don't reflect McCain's basic view as well. After all, this is a candidate who called the Social Security system a disgrace. He wants to give younger, affluent workers a chance to divert 20 percent of their future contributions out of the system, which would essentially destroy it.

Posted by: Patrick | July 10, 2008 7:46 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if Cindy McCain, the "Beer Billionairess", worries about the high price of gas?

Posted by: HonestAbe | July 10, 2008 7:45 PM | Report abuse

If the journalists would do their job, they would find all those comments where John McCain said very similar things to Graham this spring. But journalists seem to be only able to repeat gossip and not do their own work. Of course the gossip they repeat seems to be the GOP gossip. The left blogs have plenty of examples of how McCain seems to have said something similar to Graham. Why can't they at least read the left blogs to get their facts.

Posted by: Goldie | July 10, 2008 7:44 PM | Report abuse

At my age....it reminds me of Jimmy Carter's idiot economic advisor, Alfred Kahn, who said the word "recession" scared people and that we should change our terminology and start calling them "banana's" instead. "Hey everybody, we're going to have a banana."

The average housewife, housepainter, truck driver, or school teacher could run our nation better than these bozo's. If we elect these idiots to office we deserve being bent over a barrel and take a tank full of GOP "premium" fuel.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 10, 2008 7:44 PM | Report abuse

This nation is in crisis. If you are not "whining" you are either not paying attention or you don't care.

Posted by: HonestAbe | July 10, 2008 7:44 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if The Post's own Charles ("Bush Derangement Syndrome") Krauthammer, M.D., would care to weigh on "mental recession."

Posted by: Potential mential losses | July 10, 2008 7:44 PM | Report abuse

Sen. McCain showed gross ineptitude by making a crack aimed at Belarus. Having been ambassador there, I can imagine the negative impression of our country to which he has contributed. The man's a loose cannon who never should be set loose to lead our Nation. Even Sen. Obama looks better.

Posted by: Amb. (Ret.) P. Dumbarton Oakley IV | July 10, 2008 7:41 PM | Report abuse

Meanies!

Vicki I.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 10, 2008 7:40 PM | Report abuse

Typical nastiness from the cold-hearted Republicans who could care less about the suffering of the masses.

Let them eat cake.

Posted by: HonestAbe | July 10, 2008 7:37 PM | Report abuse

McCain's 2008 Economic Platform:

-- balance the budget
-- gut social security
-- sell more cigarettes to the Iranians
-- pander to the masses with meaningless gas tax holiday
-- spend $12B/month in Iraq
-- convince Americans they are "whiners"
-- buy a book "Economics for Dummies"

Posted by: HonestAbe | July 10, 2008 7:35 PM | Report abuse

Cheese steak? This is awesome news for John McCain!

Posted by: pinson | July 10, 2008 7:34 PM | Report abuse

Wow I think McCain just lost this election after this. Americans hate been called Whiners.

Posted by: Tate | July 10, 2008 7:32 PM | Report abuse

You guys (and gals) are late to the party. I always had major problems with Mac.

Sincerely,

Teleprompter

Posted by: Broadway Joe | July 10, 2008 7:25 PM | Report abuse

When do you figure was the last time that John McCain filled his own gas tank? Literally.

I always love when multi-millionaires with 7 homes tell me my problems are psychological. Even better, that I'm a "whiner."

F**k you Gramm.

Posted by: BB | July 10, 2008 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Gramm has since come out back pedaling with the now cliche "What I meant to say was..." He's saying he didn't mean the American people were whiners, he meant the leaders of the country were.

How 'bout providing a list Phil?

Can we get somebody in politics who will say what they mean and stick to it? So at least when we don't vote for them we can still respect them for taking a stance and sticking to it instead of stumbling, shambling and backpedaling.

Posted by: Sparky | July 10, 2008 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Yes, if only we would just focus on how much better off the filthy-rich are, and forget about everyone else...

Posted by: ThomasMc | July 10, 2008 7:11 PM | Report abuse

It's good that the McCain team is coordinating their talking points, as John McCain's been talking about how the problems with the economy, gas prices, energy, et al, and his proposals to solve them, are 'mostly psychological', for months now.

Alternative energy? McCain will harness the power of the subconscious, store it in a science-contest-prize battery, and use it to power your new 'horseless carriage'.

Go McCain!

http://www.womenforjohnmccain.com/

Posted by: Christina West | July 10, 2008 7:06 PM | Report abuse

Oh, yeah, right, "rmorrow," - "Same old liberal media."
Drive cross-country some time and try to find a talk radio station that isn't airing Limbag, Hannity, Beck, Reagan, Michael Savage or some other far-right-wing hack merrily spewing his garbage on the gullible and the ignorant!
We're all sick of perennially hearing about this non-existent "liberal media" from you right-wingnuts - so can it, OK?

Posted by: Steve T | July 10, 2008 7:05 PM | Report abuse

I guess you can call it whining when you're rich and the rising costs of EVERYTHING has no impact on your day to day living.

From the ivory tower of the rich and ruling class in this country we peasants complaining about trying to afford gas, heating oil, electricity, medical costs, prescription medications, food and all the other expenses of day to day living must be a real bother to them.

"Sorry to disturb you, sir."

Posted by: tre793 | July 10, 2008 7:05 PM | Report abuse

Senator Graham has a nice Federal Pension after feeding at the public thought for years.He owes his current position to his years in Washington,and not financial savvy. Neither should we forget that his wife was a member of the board of Enron when it was spinning toward bankruptcy. A great financial adviser McCain has.

Posted by: jack perkins | July 10, 2008 7:04 PM | Report abuse

i'm voting for nader

Posted by: herbert de turbot | July 10, 2008 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Phil Gramm? I thought that flatulent old windbag passed on to his neocon-nazi reward years ago! As for "mental recession," Phil should seek professional help regarding his "mental health." Surprised Sen. McClone's BFF Mr. Flight Suit hasn't talked him into using Nixon's old campaign slogun from '72......FOUR MORE YEARS! That's what it would amount to if he were (God forbid) elected.

Posted by: Waldo Leidecker | July 10, 2008 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Mental recession, huh?

It's amazing how folks like Phil who didn't have the ... to go to Vietnam (how many deferments Phil???) like to call others out.

The average American is sucking wind right now. You don't easily adjust your family's budget for the abrupt and significant increase in gas prices. Can't take it from the food budget because that's being hit too. Utilities .. more bad news there, and just wait till next winter for these families. And how about their investments for their kids' education or their retirement .. taking a beating. A real beating. Add to all of that a Republican president who is more concerned with Iran's doctored missile photos than with addressing his nation's more present concerns .. and, year, sure, we've got a lot on our minds Phil.

Sorry to bother you and your Republican buddies.

Seriously, a mute cat could beat you guys in November.

Posted by: tslats | July 10, 2008 6:59 PM | Report abuse

Former Sen. Gramm certainly should know a thing or two about whining. The Senator lives in the ex-urbs of San Antonio and when the public service utility dared to consider building a power line to supply the communities near the Senator's home, you never heard such whining in your life! How could a former senator have to be like the rest of us and look at a power line. NO SIR! The Senator did manage to whine and pull enough strings to get the power line moved [at great cost to the citizens of the city]. So give Phil Gramm credit; he has his PHD in whining and knows whereof he speaks.

Posted by: Chuck | July 10, 2008 6:54 PM | Report abuse

So McCain admittedly knows very little about the economy, but his top economic advisor doesn't speak for him. Huh?

Does anyone else think that a McCain presidency would be a disparate group of sugared-up kids running wild in the playground while Grandpa sleeps?

Posted by: SWB | July 10, 2008 6:53 PM | Report abuse

A "mental" recession, Gramm? It's all in my mind? It's just my imagination? Thanks. That takes a big load off my mind. I won't worry anymore.

Sincerely,

15 million unemployed

Posted by: Broadway Joe | July 10, 2008 6:53 PM | Report abuse

What is it with Republican prez candidates? George Bush the elder thinks grocery store scanners are the cat's nuts and now McCain thinks the economic chaos that afflicts the nation is all in the public's minds...yeah, right, maybe gas is really only two bucks a gallon and we're all hallucination and the dollar hasn't really gone into the tank and there's really no trade deficit with China. McSame appears to be a perfect follow up for Puddinhead, dolts of a feather flocking together.

Posted by: nighthawksoars | July 10, 2008 6:51 PM | Report abuse

LOL. So an Obama supporter says something stupid and it is a postive for Obama. A McCain supporter says something stupid and it is a disaster for McCain.

Same old liberal media. Keep on spinning, folks. Maybe someday you will actually believe it.

Posted by: rmorrow | July 10, 2008 6:39 PM | Report abuse

The New York Times had an op-ed piece that McCain's campaign is confused and sometimes a cross-purpose. They then infer that if that's what his campaign is like, then, if he's elected, his cabinet will be much the same.

While going on at length about picking a VP and what that says about a candidate, less visible but just as telling is the people they pick as advisors.

Unfortunately (for McCain), Gramm's comment wasn't a simple foot-in-mouth slip, but a consistent self-supporting description of his world-view.

I think McCain going to have to cut him loose, or the narrative of caring more about corporations than people won't go away. Gramm. He's an oil-man isn't he?

Posted by: NoOneImportant | July 10, 2008 6:16 PM | Report abuse

This makes it all the more clear that McCain's economic policies are just not what the doctor is ordering. People who are suffering lower real incomes and higher costs do not want to be patronized. The message from McCain is that on economic he doesnt know much and he doesnt care to know much he will just follow the lead of Gramm and other bankrupt Republicans.

Posted by: nclwtk | July 10, 2008 6:09 PM | Report abuse

Gramm's gaffe will haunt McCain for weeks. This was McCain's go-to guy on the economy. For him to diss struggling Americans - and voters - is troubling.

http://www.political-buzz.com/

Posted by: matt | July 10, 2008 6:08 PM | Report abuse

Gramm was more more responsible than anyone for the deregulation which led to the current financial mess. What does it say about McCain's judgement that Gramm is one of his top economic advisors, or that he is now pretending that Gramm is not a top advisor.

Posted by: scientist1 | July 10, 2008 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Since when does a candidate's top advisers not speak for him? I thought the point of sending these surrogates and advisers out to meet with reporters and editorial boards (like Gramm is today) was precisely to speak on behalf of the candidate? The notion that Gramm -- architect of Enron and the mortgage crisis -- is even used by the McCain camp as an adviser speaks volumes about the economic disaster McCain would unleash on the country.

Posted by: Seamus | July 10, 2008 5:54 PM | Report abuse

McCain also said that "social security is a disgrace".

Lucky for McCain, Jesse Jackson's "nuts" comment got center stage yesterday so McCain dodged a bullet (only to be hit with one today with Gramm's stupid comments about the nation is a bunch of whiners).

However, I expect Obama to use McCain's "social security is a disgrace" line either in an attack ad and/or when ever social security comes up. That stupid comment WILL be used.

Posted by: Michelle | July 10, 2008 5:51 PM | Report abuse

Chris-

You whiffed on one of the better quotes in the Times story, where Graham seems to blame the media for instigating the whining:

"Misery sells newspapers," Mr. Gramm said. "Thank God the economy is not as bad as you read in the newspaper every day."

I think a better case can be made that journalists believe temerity sells newspapers.

I've yet to see a newspaper account of McCain's "joke" about Iran yesterday. When it was pointed out to him that trade with Iran has increased markedly during the Bush administration, with cigarettes leading the way, McCain suggested that maybe that was an effort to "kill Iranians." Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran, indeed!

Chris, in keeping with the theme of the day, perhaps you should grow a pair!

Posted by: Peter | July 10, 2008 5:42 PM | Report abuse

You need a story of your own before you start worrying about the media adopting a narrative that makes sense to them.

Sen. McCain erred in not taking himself off the campaign trail for a month or so after nailing down the nomination to work out his preferred positions on all the issues he doesn't usually think a lot about himself. Economic policy is one of these. Actually, where McCain needed to start on this issue is with clear, "straight talk" acknowledgement of where the economy is right now.

This doesn't mean nonstop sob stories about how "people are hurting, boo hoo." McCain isn't the kind of guy who can manufacture empathy, and the public's desire for that kind of thing is overstated anyway. It means instead frank talk about the things voters have already figured out themselves, about things like gas prices (they are higher than they used to be, and they will stay that way), the state of the business cycle (we're in a recession), and the mortgage crisis (government pushed very hard to increase home ownership, and ended up encouraging lenders to make too many unsound loans). McCain can't be as forthright about issues involving the federal budget, because he's committed himself to Bush's tax cuts and the war in Iraq, which together guarantee deficits as far as the eye can see. But to reinforce his image as a straight talker, McCain needs to talk straight about the things people see in their daily lives. It wouldn't kill Obama to do that, either.

Posted by: Zathras | July 10, 2008 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, Gramm is the top adviser to McCain on economic issues, so it is highly appropriate to assume that Gramm speaks for McCain here. In those town hall meetings during the primaries, when McCain was handed an economic question, he quickly tossed it to Gramm who sat directly behind him and delivered the detailed reply. It was like watching a ventriloquist working, except it was hard to know who was the dummy.

Chris, the narrative has already hardened in the public mind. It is clear that McCain knows nothing about economics (and darn little about the Middle East, but that is another issue). McCain's relies instead on the supercilious, grim, unsympathetic, and out-of-touch supply-siders like Phil Gramm for his economic ideas. This is a glimpse of what a McCain administration would give us: heartless verbiage and do-nothing rhetoric mascarading as policy. Electing John McCain president would be a disaster in both the international and domestic arena.

Posted by: dee | July 10, 2008 5:37 PM | Report abuse

WOW!! This is a powerful stuff. That's why voters should have a choice to select "None Of The Above".
Let's see who will win this general election!


==================

McCain has never bought a house on his own in last 71 years. McCain has yet go to grocery store to buy a gallon of milk. We all know Cindy McCain is real-estate-tycoon in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Las Vegas.

On the other hand, Obama can not buy his own house (in his case Chicago mansion) without help from his dearest friend Tony Rezko.

Now, you want to trust these two fellows to handle US economy. Give me a break.

Posted by: | July 10, 2008 4:56 PM

Posted by: Bruce | July 10, 2008 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Mccain was traipsing all over this country during the primaries touting Dr. Phil's excellent opinions. Just today Gramm was at the Wall Street Journal speaking on behalf of McCain. Now Gramm doesn't speak for him?

Some of McCain's "base" would rather I accept whatever he says and ignore the truth.

Or sweep it all under the rug, because an Obama story will sell better.

Or better yet, maybe I should just chuckle at Mccain's ill conceived "wit" and forget he wants to continue Bush's destructive policies.

However, I did not find it amusing when McCain dodged Karen Tumulty's critical question about Gramm by suggesting he'd send him to Belarus.

I guess he doesn't have a prominent role in his economic agenda either? And how would we ever believe Gramm wouldn't be a prominent member of a potential McCain administration? How dishonest is this all going to get?

I admit some is faux outrage, but more of it is accumulated frustration with journalists who won't hold this McCain campaign accountable.

I mean, contrast the coverage of the Jesse Jackson nonsense to this! It's remarkable.

Posted by: tdot | July 10, 2008 5:32 PM | Report abuse

If this weren't such a blatent politcial ploy, a half baked attempt to have it both ways, it would be laughable. Gramm comes out and calls people who have lost their jobs, their homes, their health insurance, whiners. Maybe their familiy has been destroy. Whiners. Die. Red meat tossed to the far right, to the greedy crowd of base Republican support that thinks that anyone stupid enough to fall for thei scams and be ruined just deserve it. At the same time, McCain can turn around and "criticize" Gramm for those comments. Not do anything. Not fire him. Not go on national television and issue an apology and break with this piece of subhuman trash. Nope. McCain gets to to have it both ways - to the right he has no sympathy with anyone that has been harmed by their ruthless and insane rush to make money at any cost and, to the "little people" he gets to appear oh so concerned.

What a sad out-of-touch once great man! How has John McCain fallen so low. I think the has taken leave of his senses. I cannt believe that the maverick we once knew and loved has become such a right wing hack. John, plead senility and drop out, before you do any more damage.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | July 10, 2008 5:32 PM | Report abuse

I'm a big Obama supporter, but this is just ridiculous.

Someone who clearly does not speak for McCain says something stupid, so it gets spun wildly as reinforcing a narrative? Only if irresponsible people spin it into something it's not.

Posted by: Dave Cullen | July 10, 2008 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Obama should hammer on the fact that, though McCain didn't mouth the words, his Republican ally did. This is how the Republican honchos think. They do not have a clue about people outside their elite social class, and they don't care. This is the question for the American people: Do they want to keep oligarchs like Gramm, and Cheney as the power behind the throne for another four years?

Posted by: windroad | July 10, 2008 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Gramm is McCain's top economic advisor -- a formal part of the campaign. How can McCain simply say his top advisor doesn't speak for him with respect to the very subject he is advising him on, and you, CC, are willing to accept that uncritically? Is that straight talk? Stop shillling for McCain. Its particularly nonsensical for you to shrug this off when the Clark story percolated for days -- and Clark is not a formal member of the campaign and was not speaking about policies about which he consults with the candidate. (Also, Clark didnt say what he was accused of saying.) Finally, why has there been no coverage of McCain calling the intergenerational pact on which social security has operated successfully for 70-plus years "a disgrace"? That program is a bedrock of our society and McCain's elderly supporters will be interested in knowing his true beliefs and his intent to, as Bush tried, replace it with privatization. If only you and the MSM will tell it.

Posted by: RobM | July 10, 2008 5:19 PM | Report abuse

"The message is simple: McCain and his "top" advisers don't understand (or don't care about) the economic concerns of regular people."

That's been the Republican Party as long as I've ever known it....and I've been around the block a few times.
Bush:
$4 a gallon gasoline!??!, Where'd you hear that from??? There's no lack of health care! If you're sick, you just go to the emergency room! Remember Sr. Bush's amazement at a scanner in the grocery store?

Posted by: thebob.bob | July 10, 2008 5:16 PM | Report abuse

"The message is simple: McCain and his "top" advisers don't understand (or don't care about) the economic concerns of regular people."

That's been the Republican Party as long as I've ever known it....and I've been around the block a few times.
Bush:
$4 a gallon gasoline!??!, Where'd you hear that from??? There's no lack of health care! If you're sick, you just go to the emergency room! Remember Sr. Bush's amazement at a scanner in the grocery? store.

Posted by: thebob.bob | July 10, 2008 5:15 PM | Report abuse

"Done and done"? Isn't it a major story when a candidate's top economic adviser doesn't speak for that candidate on economic matters? And, incidentally, is woefully out of touch with the economic worries of Americans? And why do you suggest that Gramm isn't one of McCain's top economic advisers by putting "top" in quotes? The campaign identifies him as one, and he's identified as a top economic adviser in the interview itself. Once again, you and rest of the media seem to be bending over backwards to give McCain the benefit of the doubt. There's no real debate about Gramm's status within McCain's staff.

Posted by: Steve W | July 10, 2008 5:11 PM | Report abuse

I guess Chris Cillizza is still waiting for Matt Drudge to tell him whether this is a big deal or not. What a moron.

Posted by: Playa | July 10, 2008 5:08 PM | Report abuse

This was an unacceptable slipup by Graham. I agree Graham was speaking the truth, but he is politically smarter than this.

Posted by: Dellis | July 10, 2008 5:06 PM | Report abuse

CC, How about some balance. Wes Clarke's comments were a major blow for Obama's campaign (when they were not as reported). Now Gramm says something that is far more problematic and it is suggested that it "could" be a problem. It is one. Both Gramm and McCain have serious problems with the economy and the budget that are not connected to a mental recession.

Posted by: TREP | July 10, 2008 4:57 PM | Report abuse

McCain has never bought a house on his own in last 71 years. McCain has yet go to grocery store to buy a gallon of milk. We all know Cindy McCain is real-estate-tycoon in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Las Vegas.

On the other hand, Obama can not buy his own house (in his case Chicago mansion) without help from his dearest friend Tony Rezko.

Now, you want to trust these two fellows to handle US economy. Give me a break.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 10, 2008 4:56 PM | Report abuse

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