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Phil Gramm's 'whiners' comment causes John McCain a headache

Lord save the presidential candidates from their allies, Chapter Two.

Last week, it was Barack Obama who saw his carefully crafted speech on patriotism overshadowed because backer Wesley Clark had made a controversial statement about John McCain getting shot Former Sen. Phil Gramm of Texas, an advisor to presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain, created a flap with comments on the economy down as a fighter pilot during the Vietnam War.

Today, it was McCain's turn to watch as his recent effort to show he understands the economic hard times that many Americans are experiencing got stepped on by an old friend and top advisor.

In an interview with the Washington Times, former Texas Sen. Phil Gramm termed the current economic slowdown "a mental recession."

He added: "We may have a recession; we haven't had one yet."

And then he showed why his own presidential bid in 1996 quickly crashed and burned, calling the United States "a nation of whiners."

Obama, campaigning in Virginia, recognized the gift that had been handed him. Referencing the "mental recession" remark, he said Gramm "didn’t say this, but I guess what he meant was, 'It’s a figment of your imagination, these high gas prices.' "

He continued: "Sen. Gramm then deemed the United States, and I quote 'a nation of whiners.' "

Milking the moment for all it was worth as his crowd both laughed and booed, Obama delivered a punch line that gave the cable networks one of the day's prime sound-bites: "I want all of you to know that America already has one Dr. Phil, we don’t need another one."

McCain distanced himself from his blunt-spoken supporter at a news conference in Michigan.

"I don’t agree with Sen. Gramm," he said. "I believe the person in Michigan that just lost his job isn’t suffering from a mental recession. I believe the mother ... who is trying to get enough money to educate her children, isn’t whining. America is in great difficulty.

"Phil Gramm does not speak for me," McCain said. "I speak for me. I strongly disagree."

McCain later came up with his own sound-bite. Asked whether Gramm was a contender to head the Treasury Department in a McCain administration, he cracked: "I think that Sen. Gramm would be in serious consideration for ambassador to Belarus, although I’m not sure the citizens of Minsk would welcome that."

Gramm apparently has no interest in another government job, because he ...

... stoutly stood by his analysis.

"I'm not going to retract any of it. Every word I said was true," he told the Washington Post.

He then elaborated.

"When I said we've become a nation of whiners, I'm talking about our leaders. I'm not talking about our people," he said. "We've got every kind of excuse in the world about oil prices -- we've got speculators, the oil companies to blame -- but too many people don't have a program to get on with a job of producing."

"If you listen to our leaders, we can't compete against Mexico, for God's sake," Gramm added. "If they don't think we can compete against Mexico, who can we compete against?"

About those GOP efforts to woo the Latino vote...

-- Michael Muskal and Don Frederick

Photo credit: Associated Press

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(mink: a semiaquatic weasellike animal, particularly of north america; minsk: capital of belarus; mccain: self-appointed comedian and preemptively-declared, presumptuously-presumptive candidate for president of the neocon fraction of the republican party.)

Obama is politically uniting Blacks and Whites, Christians and Muslims, Kennedy Liberals and Reagan Conservatives; the Podhoretz Neo-Cons and the Leiberman Neo-Libs are screaming, “Crucify him!”; and the World is singing, “God Bless America”.


What a total bunch of jerkoffs...

So now we slam the Mexicans too? What is with these McCain people? No to 4 or 8 more years of this stuff - it is time make a change - so we can stop whining, I guess. Honestly, it's not so much me but my bank account is making funny noises lately - getting drained for gas, energy and food.

Phil Gramm is a typical carbon copy clone of the out of touch, dated, ignorant Republican party. He sits there on his fat rich butt with our tax money acting as if he is entitled to spit on the American people in a time of REPUBLICAN spawned economic crisis. What is wrong with this picture? Losers like him, Republicans, should all be APOLOGIZING for the economic disaster they have created for the American people. They shouldn't be instead criticizing the American people as being weak when Republicans like Gramm are the ones who are responsible for the HUGE mess this country is now in. Time to CLEAN HOUSE and vote ALL of these ignorant, anti American Republicans OUT, power to the people.

Sen. Gramm then deemed the United States, and I quote 'a nation of whiners.

this guy live under the rock we losing jobs and he say we are whiners, let put him in our shoes lost jobs, losing homes high gas prices i bet he's the first one to whine

Any middle or "working" class person who votes for these out of touch, narcissistic old reptiles has, after the past 8 years, to be a complete idiot. McCain can continue to try to distance himself from his "advisers" as much as he likes, but one can only hope that he won't be able to keep his cozy relationship with the press forever. Nobody seems to remember his role in the Keating 5 scandal, in which he showed his true colors as a friend of the rich.

Check out Gramm's ties to Enron and oil speculators. Google him and his wife Wendy, and see what you find. He is the last person McCain should be listening to on anything. He is a disgrace. And he has the nerve to call Americans "whiners". Just wow.

The fact that this character is a top economc advisor to McCain speaks volumes about what will happen to the country if McCain is elected. Vote like your future and your families future depended on it. It just might.

Record foreclosures. Food pantries for the indigent seeing a massive surge in people needing food assistance. Record numbers of people without health insurance coverage. Over 500,000 people lost their jobs over the past six months, and the real unemployment rate (the one when you add back in the people that the Bureau of Labor Statistics has "disappeared" by dropping them from the labor force statistics -- see the labor force participation rates in 2000 vs. now, add those people back to the labor force, and you'll see what I mean) is now well over 15%.

And Phil Gramm, from the security of his multi-million-dollar CEO position, calls all of this "whining"? What, his favorite playtoy when he was a child was the Marie Antoinette Barbie, and his favorite thing to say while playing with his Barbie was "Let them eat cake"?

Yet Gramm still has the audacity to insist there's no problem, I see no-think, I hear no-think! If the Republicans had a logo for their economic policies, I guess it would be an ostrich with its head in the sand. Sigh.

Phil Gramm is completely out of touch with reality.

Any US tax advice contained in this communication (which includes any attachment) is not intended to be and cannot be used for the purpose of avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or under applicable state and local laws, or for promoting, marketing, or recommending to another party any transaction or theory addressed in this communication. This notice is provided pursuant to the rules and regulations imposed by the IRS to ensure compliance by tax advisors under IRS Circular 230, the Hague Convention, and the Treaty of Ghent.

Great. One more old, rich, white Republican male telling the rest of us to stop whining about...what? The economy tanking because of mismanagement and greed in the U.S. mortgage industry? The atmosphere collapsing because the Bush administration prefers to protect corporate interests that get rich by polluting? The out-of-control war in Iraq that began with Bush's lies about WMD and continues because Bush lacks of a plan for peace? Skyrocketing gasoline prices because Bush and the Congress are utterly, exclusively beholden to the oil industry?

Gramm's comments tell us everything we need to know about the GOP.

Cindy could put the entire deficit on her credit cards. That's McCain's only hope.

So I guess I'm just imagining the high gas and food prices, right? Oh, but those aren't part of "core inflation" so this isn't a "real" recession, we're just whiners complaining about painful price increases!

Phil Gramm resembles is remark!

Yes, if only we would just focus on how much better off the filthy-rich are, instead of the rest of us...

We're in a financial fix now in large part from Graham, who now works for a Swiss bank, helped his banking lobbyist supporters put through a bill that removed the caps on mortgage interests. So all the foreclosed homes as a result of ARMS can be laid at the doorstep of Graham's. One more thing. How come all of McCain's cardinal campaign officers are lobbyists or former lobbyists?

With friends like Gramm who needs enemies ? All that's missing now is another Herbert Hoover to tell us that prosperity is just around the corner. This internecine carnage among the Repubs is like a self-cleaning oven....Go for it Phil ! Barack.....take the girls to Disneyland, and then take a long nap. You'll need it before you start to clean up the mess the NOOKYOOLAR man leaves behind.

Hey Phil.

Formerly middle-class Americans are now living in their cars.

When was the last time you missed a meal, sir?

From what I understand, Phil Gramm has little to say about the bill he authored and slipped through in 1999 that pretty much created the conditions for the current financial meltdown. Dubbed the "Financial Services Modernization Act", the bill repealed much of the Glass-Steagall Act which regulated the very parts of the banking industry that launched the Great Depression. His wife, a former Enron board member, made huge bucks off the unregulated trading that was enabled by Phil's Bill.

Hope I don't sound like a whiner when I trash morally bankrupt and self-serving politicians who refuse to acknowledge the effects of their "lawmaking."

So, Phil, take your pick: was it your stupidity or venality that inspired your monumental bill? Or will you admit to a total lack of inspiration and put it on the doorstep of the financial lobbyists who helped you write the bill?

Your choice dude.

This is the senator who said "A billion here and a billion
there and pretty soon you are talking real money".

Just to set the record straight, it was Sen. Everett Dirksen of Ill. who made the quote about "a billion here and a billion there...," not Sen. Phil Gramm of Tex.

I am actually an Obama supporter. But I hate stupid politics.

If it's not right when they do this to Obama then it's not right the other way. The media is ridiculous.

Focus on the candidate and their issues.

Gramm was right. You people are a bunch of whiners. Grow up and solve your own problems. Stop looking for the federal government to hold your hand.

Perhaps we’re having a national malaise.

(Chuck's another Ticket reader with an excellent memory. Anyone else remember where this came from? You're dating yourself, but who cares?)

Stop whining and start the revolution.

Does this mean, in his view, everyday folk who are not the country's leaders are not part of the nation that he said is made up of "whiners"? Why am I not surpised by the fact that the GOP does not know the rest of us exist?

What planet is Phil Gramm living on? The economy is ready to go over a cliff and he says it is better than the media portrays it. The best our corporate media can manage is "are we in a recession yet?"

Phil Gramm is one of the main reasons that we had to use $29 billion with taxpayer funds to rescue Morgan Chase so it did not get crushed under the excesses of Bear Stearns. Phil Gramm was responsible for the gutting of the Glass-Steagal Act in 1999 which regulated banks and financial firms since the recession. The very excesses that Bear Stearns was engaged in.

The scariest part is that McCain admits he knows little about economics and is using Phil Gramm as his top advisor. WE ARE IN TROUBLE! Add to that the talk of making Phil Gramm Treasury Secretary. Wow, talk about the fox guarding the hen house!. Hang on to your wallets folks, you will be paying dearly, the $29 billion was only a down payment.

It was a rare moment of honesty from a Republican politician.

The party of Marie Antoinette has spoken.

John McCain now wants do distance himself from statements made by chief financial advisor Phil Gramm. He claims Gramm does not speak for him he speaks for himself. I am sure he is well aware of Gramm's views seeing how they had been in Washington together for so long.

The John McCain "Let them eat cake" economic plan to financial prosperity!! THIS guy is McCain's "financial adviser" ??? I would laugh but this is no joking matter, please do NOT vote for McCain. America needs your vote, vote Obama or at least Nader, but do not vote for another clueless, rich, detached, butt hole Republican

americans are whiners... you overspend, wrack up credit card debts, overvalue real estate, then buy big petrol burning cars, and then whine and bitch about the price of oil and petrol.. america, you are the richest country in the world, you are a pack of whiners and you should be encouraging the PRIVATE sector to do what you want it to do, as it is the MAJOR player in your economy and is why america is as rich and powerful as it is. If you are spending too much money on food.. buy cheaper food, use your money better you retards. The real estate problem is in Australia and most places in Europe, that is not the REPUBLICANS fault, there will be a major real estate bubble bust.. but you know with all those houses everywhere, im sure u will still be able to live.. if you liberals would have a back bone and keep out the mexicans perhaps then your surging population growth would ease your inflation and real estate problems! Liberals are completely contradicting retards, republicans are not much better, but unlike other democracies there can be great differences between republican/democratic nominations.

Phil Gramm's comments only assure less votes for Rep.Party, Rave on Phil you just lost one working class vote.

Seems McCain has been busy lately, what with trying to get past his bomb, bomb, bomb Iran blurb, his running around distancing himself from his top financial who called Americans whiners for complaining about our economy, to distancing himself from any talk of viagra and issuing challenges left and right for Obama to appear.

I have a challenge for Mr. McCain.

John Sidney McCain is hereby challenged to meet with the little old librarian who was denied access to his public forum on public property, issued a tresspassing ticket and threatened with arrest for simply carrying a sign that said McCain = Bush - to answer a few of HER questions.

I'm sorry, but GRAMM IS RIGHT.

Instead of taking initiative, tooling ourselves for better jobs and opportunities, and seeing a hopeful future, instead of a bleak one, the standard American is sitting at home, waiting for the bottom to fall out. What happened to the can-do spirit of America that pulled us out of depression and recession? It's gone, thanks to the media spouting day in and day out about how bad it is. Well, I'm not taking the bait. The rest of you can wallow and worry in your current problems, but I remember that here in America, you can do anything, and overcome any problem. Let the gas go up to $10 if the shady backroom powers that control these cartels deem it so. 40 years ago, gas costs a 25 cents a gallon, but NOW you're complaining about how much it's gone up? Take it all in perspective, and remember who you are. Take charge of your own lives, stop waiting for someone to give you something, and let's get to work, already.

It would be nice if we could take control of OUR OWN LIVES. But where do we get our food, where do we get our energy, where do we get our college education, where do we get our jobs, and where do we get our money.

If you have a job and get laid off because someone in India can do it for 10% of what you make, IS IT YOUR FAULT? If milk, electricity, and transportation have gone up over 20% in less than a year and you haven't seen a raise in 5 years, IS IT YOUR FAULT?

We have no control over our basic needs within this society. Our needs are based on profit margins and stock prices. In our economy, corporations are legally bound to protect their financial investments, but are not bound to ensure the general welfare of the public.

If we all were corporate owners and billionaires, all of our needs would be met.

this wonder boy helped repeal the glass-steagal act of 1933 and gave us the "credit swap defaults" and McCane has this guy
and carly fiona who was FIRED from HP as economic advisers. God help us. Knowing the colossal stupdity of the american people they will probably elect McClone president. after all they elected a guy with Alzheimer disease
and a guy who was 'special', if you get my drift. what in the hell is wrong with jesusland??

Phil Gramm's comment and general attitude is why I left the Republican party in disgust (around 2003). Today's GOP and its pathetic standard-bearer Crazy Train McCain are so woefully out of touch and despotic its alarming. I could give a long list of reasons why McCain is in no way fit to be president, but I don't really need to. Gramm's comments alone make it painfully clear.

Go Obama!

As per jahlen's comments above, the fact that Phil Gramm has the unmitigated gall to call the citizenry whiners when he is one of the fundamental architects of the mortgage and housing crisis is just unconscionable. If this isn't evil, I don't know what is.
See here:

And why isn't the AP Wire and Reuters' on this part of the story? Hello!!! Just because this story is on a liberal web site doesn't make it wrong.
Fox got your tongue?

Do we as Americans complain too much in general? To my mind, "yes". That said, someone should put a sock in Phil Gramm's mouth and leave it there until he uses some of his own money to help bail out the individuals he helped put on the street.
'Nuff said.

Wow, really out of touch. IndyMac collapses, Fannie and Freddie Mac need bailouts and Sen. Gramm calls it a "mental recession?"

Perhaps Gramm should take the damned silver spoon out of his mouth and get with reality. So much for being a public servant and leader. Clearly both he and Bush lack social graces, leadership and charisma. It is this type of postulation and foppish in government that creates the issues we currently have. The US Goverment needs to terminate incompetent individuals and start operating this country as a business with profit and loss.Let us see Gramm's comments when we cut his benefits similar to the manner in which corporate does with its current and former employees.

John McCain has Several homes and a bunch of money. This has nothing to do with his future performance as the president.

We'll stop being a nation of whiners when our leadership changes. I can't imagine anyone in favor of the same uncaring and ridiculous party of leadership next election. They have failed the American people on every level. We should have immediately wiped Afghanistan off the map after 911, post Katrina/Rita victims are STILL living in toxic trailors and some even died while waiting for our government to rescue them, Cheney's shooting up his friends on camping trips and gets away with it, this stupid government continues to pay double for gas from countries we hate, Iraq's infrastructure is becoming totally rebuilt while our bridges and roads literally crumble b4 our very eyes, hard working people need housing bailouts while Bush continues to bailout his friends like Indy Mac, Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The list goes on and on. Please America, it's time for a change in November 2008.

Hope God really will help Obama. Let us pray for him. Merry Christmas.

People always hate to talk about when they are laid off. But as it has become every day's news headline since Yahoo started it with cutting 1500 of its task force last year, now a need of platform has been in demand where people can express their selves in words how they are feeling about their company, whey the got laid off was that justified or not.
And every thing they want to tell anonymously.And is providing you that platform.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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