George Washington once said, "Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company." While this might have been true in Washington's day, as advice for the modern politician, it is hardly practical. In Texas politics, a rising star has to associate with a lot unsavory types, with a lot of money and political clout, the right connections etc. Yet, Governor Rick Perry's association with Mr. and Mrs. Gramm is much more than a casual acquaintance. If Perry's close relationship is anything to go by, Rick must not esteem his reputation at all.
Former senator and current banker Phil Gramm of Texas -- well-connected to big donors but controversial for his role in preventing tighter regulation of Wall Street -- told The Huffington Post ...that he is endorsing his former student and political protege, Texas Gov. Rick Perry..."I'm for Rick and I will do what I can to help," Gramm said in an interview in Detroit. "He has been an effective governor. He is a determined guy from a small town who knows how to get things done."
This kind of back slapping- a milder term than I would prefer- is merely an exchange of favorable reviews. Back in February of 1995, when Perry was the commissioner of agriculture in Texas, he stood at Phil Gramm's side during his unsuccessful run for the presidency. Mother Jones states:
Years later, Perry would claim that the country "made a huge mistake" by not electing Gramm president. "I can't fathom," Perry said, "where we would be as a country had Phil Gramm led this country for eight years."
There's a ten gallon hat's worth of irony in that statement to be sure. In any event, getting Gramm into the White House was unnecessary. As far as the power brokers of the 1% were concerned, Phil Gramm and others like him didn't need to to be president at all. They had George W. Bush to manage things for them, thank you very much. For them, Gramm found his place in a slightly less high-profile (but critically important) role. As any Texan would tell you, there was more than one way to skin a cat.
"Enough To Convict Us All"
Phil Gramm was once described by Economics Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman as "the high priest of de-regulation" and listed him as one of the top persons responsible of the economic crisis of 2008, second only to Alan Greenspan. Krugmann was not alone in that assessment either. The New York Times, noted economist James K. Galbraith, The Texas Observer, Warren Buffet and many others have agreed.
Before we get into that, it would be helpful to see how such a person found himself in a position of influence.
First some biographical notes: