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August 23, 2017
 

About The Autoextremist

Peter M. DeLorenzo has been immersed in all things automotive since childhood. Privileged to be an up-close-and-personal witness to the glory days of the U.S. auto industry, DeLorenzo combines that historical legacy with his own 22-year career in automotive marketing and advertising to bring unmatched industry perspectives to the Internet with Autoextremist.com, which was founded on June 1, 1999. DeLorenzo is known for his incendiary commentaries and laser-accurate analysis of the automobile business, as well as racing and the business of motorsports. Author. Commentator. Influencer. The Consigliere. Minister of the High-Octane Truth. DeLorenzo is considered to be one of the most influential voices commenting on the business today.

DeLorenzo's latest book is Witch Hunt (Octane Press  witchhuntbook.com). It is available on Amazon in both hardcover and Kindle formats, as well as on iBookstore. DeLorenzo is also the author of The United States of Toyota.

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The Autoextremist - Rants


Tuesday
Feb192008

RANTS #433

February 20, 2008

With friends like these...

By Peter M. De Lorenzo

Detroit. It would be interesting and enlightening to see John McCain, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama showing up at various insider fundraisers and Detroit auto plants of late, trying to convey how important the domestic automobile industry is to this country’s manufacturing base – and its future - if it weren’t for the fact that their so-called “concern” wasn’t disingenuous, if not flat-out phony.

After all, aren’t these the same politicians who derisively chastised Detroit at every turn earlier in the campaign? Aren’t these the same presidential candidates who just a few months ago vilified the Detroit automakers as being weak and out of touch with the realities of the global economy? Yup, same ones. But now the Michigan vote is back on the front burner again, and thus these three politicos are stumbling all over each other to show how much they “get” Detroit and understand its importance to America’s manufacturing base.

Not that we’re surprised or shocked by any of it. No, even out here in “Michigan - The Flyover State” we understand that there is a dramatic difference between conducting a campaign for President as opposed to actually being the President. We understand the difference between empty campaign promises and real substance in a political speech, too, so forgive us for taking everything said by these candidates with a giant grain of salt.

Despite their recent glad-handing forays into plants in Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin, etc., these three politicians and their advisors have demonstrated repeatedly that their grasp of the issues facing Detroit and the entire domestic auto industry – and ultimately America’s ability to remain a viable manufacturing entity in the global economy for that matter – is fleeting, at best. Not only do they seem to have trouble understanding the ramifications of a crippled domestic auto industry (beyond the platitudes in their speeches, of course), they seem to subscribe to the popular theory that Detroit can get back on track with an snap of the finger and an instant jolt of technology, and then things will magically be all better overnight.

Oh, if it were that easy.

I’ve said repeatedly in this column over the last few years and in my book, The United States of Toyota, that Detroit, Inc. was the canary in the coal mine for the rest of the country when it came to the fundamental issues facing all of us as a nation.

The healthcare crisis and the difficult pension funding problems hovering over this nation like a hangover that just won’t go away? The domestic automobile industry has been wrestling with these issues long before the rest of the country decided that there even was a problem.

The threat to America’s standing in the world because of the gradual erosion of our manufacturing base? Detroit has been in the throes of that vexing issue for years.

Only one of the candidates truly understood Detroit’s “canary in the coal mine” role, but he’s no longer involved in the process. Perhaps if the three serious contenders remaining are interested in ripping-off other candidates’ speeches, they should go back and look up some of Mitt Romney's speeches, because they just might actually learn something for a change – and some of these issues might actually start to sink in.

The attention given to this state by these three political candidates is mildly amusing - seeing as it smacks of a fishing expedition for friends in low places that they ultimately couldn’t care less about - and it does shed some light on the domestic automobile industry’s problems once again, but I’m afraid the platitudes are just that, and after the campaign is over we’ll be right back where we started.

And when the dust settles a year from now, these facts will remain: Between 1 in 12 and 1 in 14 jobs in this nation are still either directly or indirectly related to the domestic automobile business. And to those citizens far removed from this part of the country or this business who would insist that “it won’t affect me” if we lose part or all of the domestic automobile industry, then I would say you’re being naïve.

And to those others who suggest something to the effect that “Detroit should just go Green and things will be all better overnight,” I would say that you’re in need of a serious reality check as to how much of an investment in time and money is actually involved to deliver these future technologies to the American consumer public on a massive scale, no matter what the Henrik Fiskers of the world say.

Make no mistake - the bottom line in this discussion hasn’t changed since I began writing about it three years ago. This country’s fundamental ability to manufacture things in the global arena is absolutely crucial to the long-term health of this entire nation, and it continues to be under severe threat from so-called allies and adversaries alike.

We cannot exist as Starbucks Nation alone - as much as some would like to believe we can - and we can’t keep paying attention to this country’s problems only when it’s convenient fodder for the campaign trail on the fly, either.

It would be nice if the three remaining serious contenders for President displayed even a modicum of understanding of the issues facing the domestic automobile industry – and this nation – for more than the time it takes for one of their touch-and-go campaign visits here.

But then again, that might be too much to ask.

After all, with friends like these in Washington, why should we worry, right?

Thanks for listening, see you next Wednesday.