Like Barack Obama, whose infamous 'bitter' comment has entered into the public lexicon this election season, Phil Gramm -- a man I was sure would never be in the news again -- has given us 'whiners', the 'wimps' of 2008. His apologia runs as follows:
"what I meant is that American leaders are whiners -- they've got excuses for everything," he said Thursday, adding that some look for scapegoats instead of addressing problems. He criticized Obama for blaming oil companies and speculators for higher gas prices, rather than supporting more oil and gas drilling and nuclear power -- as McCain does.
“Gramm defended his recession comments, saying journalists have been ‘amplifying bad economic news’ and too many people believe things are worse than they really are. -- MSNBC
Whatever. The point is that Americans are whiners, but also sometimes not whiners. They are sometimes whiners about bad actual things they can't affect, and sometimes whiners about stupid things (my gas is going up! It'll cost so much to drive to Starbucks!) but not about much less stupid things (I won't be able to afford heat this winter!). Gramm's rhetoric is so troublesome because it's so falsely polarizing -- in a world where there are two types of people, whiners and nonwhiners, a redress of grievances is impossible, because there are no grievances worthy of the name.
Sorting whines from grievances is a critical task of politics -- witness the housing situation, where many irresponsible buyers and their irresponsible corporate partners whine for money they should've had the foresight to keep in the first place. But sorting appropriately, with dispassionate conservatism, is a task made more, not less, difficult by the likes of Gramm's sweeping generalizations.