Bob writes: A pro basketball player named Micheal (yes, that's the way he spells it) Ray Richardson once famously said of the New York Knicks franchise: "The ship be sinking."
When a reporter asked him how far it could sink, Richardson reportedly replied: "Sky's the limit."
Something similar might be said about today's economy, although Phil Gramm, a remarkably out-of-touch former senator from Micheal Ray's home state of Texas, would beg to differ. You may have lost your job or the family home. Or maybe you're behind in your car payment or your health insurance premium. Perhaps you can't afford the gas to get to work.
Phil Gramm will have none of your complaints: Get over it! Stop whining and eat your gruel. This recession's all in your head.
No one (not even John McCain, who tended toward the rapturous when describing Mr. Gramm's economic bona fides) could mistake this sour-visaged investment banker for a populist.
"We're the only nation in the world," Mr. Gramm once said, "where all our poor people are fat."
During one of the many Republican assaults on Social Security, the issue of cutting back benefits for the elderly came up in the Senate. "They are 80-year-olds," howled Mr. Gramm. "Most people don't have the luxury of living to be 80 years old, so it's hard for me to feel sorry for them."
John McCain, whose Straight Talk Express ran out of gas long ago, tried to paper over the implications of Mr. Gramm's unseemly outburst this week about the very real suffering that has descended on millions of Americans. "Phil Gramm does not speak for me," said Senator McCain. "I speak for me."
But the truth is that Mr. Gramm, a close friend of Senator McCain's for many years, has had a very loud say in the economic policies of the McCain presidential campaign. And those policies are an extension of the G.O.P. orthodoxy that is threatening to sink the ship of state, even as the very wealthy are dancing mindlessly to the music of another Gilded Age.