McCain Throws Gramm Under Bus?

Matt Lewis
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Posted: Jul 10, 2008 2:05 PM

Bosom buddies no more?

John McCain just wrapped-up a press conference, responding to former senator (and McCain economic adviser) Phil Gramm's recent controversial comments about the recession being psychological.  Gramm also went on to say that we are a "nation of whiners." 

Of course, every economic downturn has a psychological component attached to it, but this is, at the very least, bad politics.

During that presser, McCain fielded a question regarding what role Gramm might play in a McCain administration. 

McCain responded to the query by saying Gramm might be a good Ambassador to Belarus -- though he also added that the people of Minsk might object from that.  This, of course, is tantamount to banishing him to the political version of Siberia. 

Was McCain just kidding?  My guess is that it was a joke which betrayed McCain's real anger at Gramm.  McCain would understandably be upset by this gaffe, as it serves to take the focus away from the Jesse Jackson story.  It also takes the focus off of the recent news that McCain's fundraising is doing well.  What is more, it hurts McCain on the economy -- an issue he can ill afford to take a hit on.

Throughout the campaign, McCain and Obama have both had little patience for supporters, staffers, and advisers who have caused them trouble.  In most cases, these folks have been quickly -- and unceremoniously -- ushered out of the campaign spotlight.

The potential that Gramm could be on the "outs" would be particularly significant, because -- unlike the other examples of McCain friends who have been banished -- McCain and Gramm have been very, very close.  During an early blogger conference call, McCain cited Gramm as the kind of person he would consider to be his running mate.  Gramm was the only person mentioned by name.   It will be interesting to see whether or not Gramm is permanently banished to Belarus, or if he earns his way back into McCain's good graces.