The Company He Keeps
Look who Ted Cruz has recruited as his economic advisor:
If it’s true that a man can be judged by the company he keeps, what are we to make of the appointment of former Sen. Phil Gramm as economic advisor to the Presidential campaign of Ted Cruz?
Cruz made the appointment Friday, when he collected Gramm’s endorsement of his quest for the Presidency.
As Micheal Hiltzik points out in his coverage of this — what’s the word?– curious appointment, Gramm is exactly whom you’d choose if one global financial meltdown just wasn’t delicious enough:
Gramm left a long record as a dedicated financial deregulator on Capitol Hill, with much of his effort aimed at freeing up trading in derivatives. That’s why he’s often identified as one of the godfathers of the 2008 financial crisis, which was spurred in part by banks’ imprudent trading and investing in these extremely complex financial instruments.
Gramm himself is undeterred by his own disastrous record, and clearly Cruz is equally unbothered. That would be why both men are ignoring Gramm’s last appearance as a campaign surrogate:
Gramm’s previous stint as a Presidential campaign advisor ended inauspiciously. That was in 2008, when he served as co-chairman of John McCain’s Presidential run.
Gramm’s most notable moment in that position came on July 10, 2008, when he dismissed the developing economic crisis as “a mental recession” in an interview–and video–released by the conservative Washington Times. “We’ve never been more dominant,” he said. “We’ve never had more natural advantages than we have today. We’ve sort of become a nation of whiners.” McCain immediately disavowed the remarks, and a few days later Gramm stepped down as his campaign co-chairman.
I’m assuming that Ted Cruz does actually hope to become president, and thus makes his choices in the belief that they will advance him to that end. So I can only see two possible interpretations for this exhuming of one of the most egregious poster children for GOP economic failure.
One is that this is what epistemic closure looks like when it’s at home. It takes a hermetic seal between you and reality to think the “nation of whiners” trope is a winner this year (or ever, really, but especially now).
The other is that this is just trolling, or rather yet one more instance of believing an action is simply good in itself, transcendently so, if it pisses liberals off. Which lands Cruz — and the GOP — in exactly the same place as option one: doubling down on the crazy for reasons extremely clear only to those with the correct implants in their upper left second molar.
All of which is to say that I remain firm in my belief that the entity identifying itself as Senator Cruz is in fact one of these guys.
“Where are we going?”
Image: J. W. M. Turner, Sunrise With Sea Monsters, 1845