By Peter M. De Lorenzo
Detroit. When we started this publication back on June 1, 1999, it was with the stated goal of “influencing the influencers” and saying things that others wouldn’t say unless it was under cover of the usual “off the record” and “deep background” qualifiers. That wasn’t going to be the case with Autoextremist.com. I was going to say what needed to be said and because of that – and doing it on a consistent basis for more than sixteen years - this publication would inexorably change the way the automobile business is covered by the media.
But there was one more guiding principle behind this publication that I haven’t shared, and that was Mark Twain’s famous advice to “write what you know.” And believe me I know and understand this business better than most, and because of my rather unique background I am able to provide a perspective that you won’t find anywhere else. (It should be noted that I have, however, chosen to ignore another favorite Mark Twain quote in the course of writing for this publication and that is, “Never tell the truth to people who are not worthy of it.” I gleefully deliver the High-Octane Truth whether people can handle it, or not.)
Which brings me to today’s column.
Something is going on in this country right now that needs to be addressed, because I am mad as hell and I refuse to take it for one more minute. And no, this isn’t a political column - and let me be perfectly clear on this – or an endorsement for any one candidate, but when I see the automobile industry being dragged into the political arena – yet again – while being subjected to falsehoods and flat-out lies, well it stops here and it ends now.
You may have heard that Donald Trump has taken the Ford Motor Company to task for building vehicles in Mexico and that if he were President he would make the company stop what it is doing and build cars and trucks in America, where they belong. And he has pounded on this from Day One of his candidacy. And now, he is taking credit for the fact that Ford isn’t going ahead with plans to build a new plant in Mexico but is instead planning to build a “huge” new plant here in the United States. Except none of it is true. Not one bit of it.
In April Ford announced plans to expand its operation in Mexico - a country it has been operating in for 90 years with more than 11,000 employees – with a $2.5 billion investment in engine and transmission facilities in two separate Mexican states. Trump seized upon this news early on and insisted he would make Ford change its plans. Except Ford never wavered from its plans, and Trump never bothered to correct his story, in fact over the last few days he has doubled down on the whole charade. And let me say this again: None of what he has said or is saying now is true. Not one bit of it.
After Trump has repeatedly crowed about making Ford back down with his now patented simpleton rhetoric, this is what Ford had to say about it in a statement:
“We decided to move the F-650 and F-750 medium-duty trucks to Ohio Assembly in 2011, long before any candidates announced their intention to run for U.S. president. We are proud that Ford has invested $10.2 billion in our U.S. plants since 2011 and hired nearly 25,000 U.S. employees. Overall, more than 80 percent of our North American investment annually is in the U.S., and 97 percent of our North American engineering is conducted in the U.S.”
Did this deter Trump? No, of course not. As David Shepardson reported from The Detroit News Washington Bureau, Trump instead sent out two tweets to his followers. One Trump tweet said, “Do you think I will get credit for keeping Ford in U.S. Who cares, my supporters know the truth. Think what can be done as president.” And in the other he said, “Word is that Ford Motor, because of my constant badgering at packed events, is going to cancel their deal to go to Mexico and stay in U.S.”
I will say it again because it needs to be pounded home: None of what he has said or is saying now is true. Not one bit of it.
Another famous quote from Trump came earlier this summer when he said that he was going to tell Ford CEO Mark Fields how it was going to be concerning Mexico: “Let me give you the bad news: Every car, every truck and every part manufactured in this plant that comes across the border, we’re going to charge you a 35 percent tax. They are going to take away thousands of jobs.”
Except that the President can’t arbitrarily rewrite tax laws, No. 1, and there are these little things called free trade agreements already in place that he won’t be able to change unless both political parties decided to check their brains at the door and capitulate to his every whim. And that simply isn’t going to happen in our lifetime, no matter who is President.
Echoing those immortal words from the great Vince Lombardi, what the Hell is going on out there?
Are we, as a country, going to sit back and allow this third-tier "celebrity" and belligerent, classless, no-talent, lying hack get anywhere near the office of the President of the United States?
Are we going to sit back and let this boorish, low-life, hate-mongering, nouveau dick lead this nation going forward? (I’m sorry, is “dick” too crude a word for you? Remember we’re talking about an unctuous prick that has left nothing but pithy one-liners, lies and misstatements in his wake. The word is more than appropriate.)
I have sat back and watched this bombastic publicity hound chew the airwaves spewing lies about this business (if he’s telling such egregious untruths about the auto business and then doubling down on it, what else is he lying about?) and refrained from commenting on it, but I can’t abide this for one damn second. The Dude does not abide.
Seriously, is this the best we can do? I will answer that for you: Oh Hell no.
Yes, I admit that Trump was initially amusing with his off-the-cuff quips and chirps about the cesspool that defines Washington, but all that amounted to was a humorous diversion and nothing more. That isn’t going to fly in the White House.
This country deserves better. Much better.
We have serious problems that are growing exponentially by the hour. Our manufacturing base is being threatened by global competitors that don’t play fair, or even worse, by any rules whatsoever. We have friends acting like enemies and enemies masquerading as friends. We are being threatened by enemies that want to destroy us and everything we stand for because our very existence is a threat to their dark vision of a dead world. And the paralysis in Washington among our stumblebum politicos is a dismal disgrace and an insult to every American.
Donald Trump is nothing more than a minor bit player in this circus, one who is relentlessly ill equipped to be President, but he has managed to dominate the airwaves and the media because of his empty, reactionary rhetoric and this country's sick infatuation with "celebrity." And it is embarrassing and depressing that we, as a country, have indulged him this far.
Well, it needs to stop here and it needs to stop now.
We can do better and we must do better.
And that’s the High-Octane Truth for this week.
Editor's Note: Watch "Episode 3" of AutoextremistTV on YouTube here. -WG