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Paging Dr. Phil: The US is a Nation of Bitter Whiners! Right?

Former Senator Phil Gramm, economic adviser to John McCain, has seemingly unleashed a "bitter" comment of his own. The damning Gramm economic quote alleged that the US was "a nation of whiners" in that the country is feeling a "mental recession." Though he quickly clarified that he had been referring to some of the nation's leaders, the bitter was already out of the box.

McCain immediately hopped on the repudiation express saying, "I strongly disagree [with Phil Gramm's remarks.] Phil Gramm does not speak for me. I speak for me." Adding that a person who just lost a job "isn't suffering from a mental recession."

Obama made hay with the comment saying, "America already has one Dr. Phil. We don't need another one when it comes to the economy. It's not just a figment of your imagination. Let's be clear. This economic downturn is not in your head." Adding, "it isn't whining to ask government to step in and give families some relief."

Ahem. It isn't? "Bitter" vs. "Whiners?" Who wins in that match up? Oh, there's a clear victor — to find out who,


The match up here is: should the government be held accountable and "give families some relief" or are citizens themselves responsible to figure their way out of this "mental recession." A possible answer is found in the McCain archive of famous quotes considered damning, which are really nothing but true: “I’ll look at you in the eye again and I’ll tell you that there are some jobs that won’t come back.”

The world has changed. The economy has changed. Like it or not, major changes are needed — the world is now whine- and relief-proof. We are not entering into a tough, temporary patch whereby the government can be expected to "give relief." And that could be the very definition of whining: I don't like what's happening to me, and I want you to fix it. Labeling tough love, "Dr. Phil"-esque, as Obama did, doesn't deal with the reality, and though I'm no Phil-fan, by saying that, Obama may have unwittingly pointed out the possible truth in Gramm's statement. If you don't like your life or your situation, sitting around and saying you don't like it, isn't going to change a lick of anything come morning.

Then, there's the fact that the bitter comment, was uttered by Obama himself, not a surrogate like Gramm. When he said that small-town voters, "get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or antitrade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations," it's a character indictment and a commentary on the complexity of their mental capacities — not an assessment of the realities of a situation and the work required to reverse it.

At the end of the day (or this post) calling citizens "whiners" or "bitter" doesn't change a thing (nor is it especially productive) but I'd rather be inspired to work harder and smarter so I don't have to whine than be told I'm not going to understand anyway, so here's a bible, a check, and good luck five years from now when we're in a worse boat sinking faster and now I'm desperate because I haven't been relying on myself for this "relief."

But that's just one interpretation. What do you think?


Join The Conversation
reesiekitty reesiekitty 8 years
I think that the 'whiner' comment was just another sign of how out-of-touch a lot of government officials are with average people. Times are tough? Got downsized? If you DARE to complain that something might be wrong with the government ( ie Republicans) then you're just a 'whiner' and not a real, tough, pull-youself-up-by-your-bootstraps' American. I just think it's another way to try and trivialize anyone who is critical of the current administration. As for the 'bitter' comment- well, I grew up in rural Ohio, and you know what? A lot of people ARE bitter. Bitter does not mean you are not proud of your heritage or family. Bitter does not mean you are unpatriotic or uneducated. It means that you did all the things you were supposed to do: went to school or work, bought into the 'american dream' and it wasn't good enough. People have a right to be BITTER about that- they were lied to and their tax dollars have been wasted. I just don't see 'bitter' as being such a bad way to describe it. And, unfortunately, I don't want to perpetrate any kind of sterotypes, but I have met and known a lot of uneducated, rural white people who are bitter. So even though Obama's comment was not maybe the most politic or polite thing to say, he gets points for honesty in my book. A lot of people are bitter- most politicians just would never admit it- or have the balls to say it. ( although if Jesse Jackson has his way, maybe Obama won't either! ;)
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 8 years
Ha! yeah and the 60's, 80', 90's, 2000 on - Sounds like a serious issues that have plagued society for sometime.
yesteryear yesteryear 8 years
i agree that it is OK to whine about the 70s being over. let's all listen to some ABBA and cry our petty little eyes out together. WAAAAAAAAAH.
hayworthgilda hayworthgilda 8 years
I think the "whiner" comment actually distracts from Gramm's point, which seemed to be that while Americans are complaining about the economy, it's not doing as badly as the plethora of news stories suggest. Overall, America is still experiencing growth, but at a slower rate than we have been. It was very badly worded, but I don't think he meant to suggest that people losing their houses should just sack up. I think he meant that we (collectively) are complaining loudly and that's getting reported as "the economy is in shambles!" when the statistics don't back that up. I think there's some truth to his point. But it's SUCH a poorly phrased remark, given that there's a confluence of hard economic hits (mortgage crisis, gas prices, food prices) centered around basic goods (housing/food/transp) at the moment; these hit lower and middle class families harder.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
I was talking about the 70's.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 8 years
Gee that sounds like yesterday UnDave
raciccarone raciccarone 8 years
Dave are you talking about the 70s or today?
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
Casual sex, STD's, Drug overdoses, no confidence in American made goods....
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 8 years
God I miss the 70's. Roller Skates, Disco, The Brady Bunch and 70's hair.
raciccarone raciccarone 8 years
They are men from the 70s and they are here to funkify you. Please fasten your seatbelts, it's going to get very, very groovy.
stephley stephley 8 years
Raci, who the heck are those guys? I'm going blind trying to figure it out!
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 8 years
I love going to Sonoma and Napa Valley in Ca. Lots of goody good wine.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
Well, get a bigger basket or hire a bunch of Mexicans to do it for you. I hear they work really cheaply. You could also buy a kid to do it for you for $10,000.
Jude-C Jude-C 8 years
Oh, just get a job at a distillery instead, and send me samples.
raciccarone raciccarone 8 years
(Whining) But it's tooooooooo hard and the grapes keep falling out of the baskeeeeeet...
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
Vintner, you need to step up production. I'm running out of good wine...
raciccarone raciccarone 8 years
Now, I work in a winery, so I am sort of confused because "wining" is sort of what I'm supposed to do. Should I quit? Signed, Vexed Vintner
yesteryear yesteryear 8 years
i totally agree with hypno's second paragraph. we need a leader to come out and check us and assure us that if we pitch in and help, and also continue working hard, we will make it through this economic catastrophe. the news is depressing, and it's everywhere. people are nervous. it's just a bad time all around. personally i'm excited to have a president who has the guts to tell america to stop whining and/or being bitter and get cracking on taking care of itself. we can do it - we just haven't been forced to do it in over 2 generations.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 8 years
America despite our temporary economic set back is a for all intents and purposes a big group of spoiled children. :highfive: Hypno! :cheers:
bellaressa bellaressa 8 years
I see a show and a book in Mr. Phil Gramm future.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 8 years
Sen. Gramm comment was inappropriate not because it wasn't true in my opinion but because of his delivery of the truth. If he had written a book basically saying the same thing but with thoughtful explanation and compassionate remedies to back up his statement people would be in line buying it as a self help book. Also with all due respect to Sen. Obama who simply seized on the political opportunity. I think it is safe to say that Sen. Gramm was not heartless enough to intend his statement to address those individuals whose circumstances have been dictated by a situation such as a lay off etc. America despite our temporary economic set back is a for all intents and purposes a big group of spoiled children. With a do whatever the F we want attitude. When circumstances that we take for granted begin to infringe on those luxuries we find ourselves in a collective state of shock looking to the government whom we never paid attention to before for answers. I agree that the government should do its part but if we learn to genuinely appreciate our life style and not take it for granted we will be much better equipped emotionally and financially to deal with hard times.
Jude-C Jude-C 8 years
I can see both sides of this argument. Of course it's better for people to haul themselves up, work harder and smarter, and find ways to adapt to the changing situation. People wouldn't be bitter and whining, however, if there weren't currently so many things to be bitter and whiny about ;) In the long run, however, it will be more productive to focus on what we (individually and as a nation) can do to better our lot, than on taking offense at being called bitter or whiners.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
There are parts of the economy that are doing great. I hope you don't own Lee Enterprises Stock. They went from $42.00/share to $3.60/share this year... That stinks.
Kelliegrl Kelliegrl 8 years
Yep the economy is doing just great (not whining though).
Kimpossible Kimpossible 8 years
That has been my experience as well Caterpillar and Dave.
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