Let the whining continue

Phil Gramm reappears among John McCain's top aides, a month after he quit the campaign for calling America a "nation of whiners" about the economy.

Published August 14, 2008 11:48PM (EDT)

Maybe Minsk has relocated to Colorado?

Former Texas Sen. Phil Gramm -- whom John McCain threatened to banish to Belarus after he called America a "nation of whiners" who only think the economy's bad -- popped up with the GOP campaign again Thursday. The Wall Street Journal reported that Gramm had a front-row seat with other supporters while McCain addressed the Aspen Institute.

Gramm had officially left the campaign last month, tossed overboard as McCain tried to control the damage from his comments in an election where voters say the economy is the top issue. (Before that, he was a frequent passenger on McCain's campaign bus and a top economic advisor and surrogate.)

So what was he doing in Aspen? "I'm a supporter," he told the Journal's Laura Meckler. Is he still giving McCain advice on economics? "We're friends. I haven't stopped being his friend. If he asks me, I'd give it to him." And what about the whining? "We have leaders who are doing too much whining and not enough leading. I never apologize for telling the truth."

No wonder, then, that the Obama campaign e-mailed reporters with the Journal's account under the gleeful subject line "Heeeeeeee's back!"

By Mike Madden

Mike Madden is Salon's Washington correspondent. A complete listing of his articles is here. Follow him on Twitter here.

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John Mccain R-ariz.