Former Senator and McCain campaign co-chairman Phil Gramm has been a pain in the back end for McCain economic policy chief Douglas Holtz-Eakin for a very long time.
Holtz-Eakin, who served formerly as Congressional Budget Office director and had a stint at the Council on Foreign Relations, is a centrist moderate in his economic positions — and Phil Gramm was a raging bull ideologue when it came to compulsive-obsessiveness for tax cuts to fix everything.
Gramm’s comments that America had become “a nation of whiners” trapped in a “mental recession” got him thrown under McCain’s Straight Talk Express.
And in a manner reminiscent of Obama spokesman Bill Burton throwing former Middle East team adviser Rob Malley under the bus and then backing up and making sure he was really whacked for Malley’s work with Hamas (Burton stated that not only was Malley no longer advising Obama — but that he would never advise Obama), Holtz-Eakin told the press that after Gramm’s comment, he wouldn’t even be talking to John McCain by cell phone. Ouch!
While Rob Malley did not deserve the treatment he got from Obama’s team, Phil Gramm certainly did.
But one problem the Obama team will now have with McCain in a post-Gramm campaign is that Holtz-Eakin will have much less disruption in the economic advisory packages he puts before his candidate. My sense is that Obama’s economic team remains “complex” to be generous — but Holtz-Eakin just won his franchise and will be able to stitch together more consistent messaging than the Dems at this point.
— Steve Clemons