As commentators from all across the spectrum ditch their pom-poms and start to face facts, The Detroit Free Press is keeping it surreal by dedicating its nearly all of its ink budget to the cause of federal investments in the American auto industry. In fact, there’s so much bailout boosterism, it’s hard to know where to begin. How about the decision to run this CBS scare piece, complete with misleading, self-serving commentary by MI Governor Jennifer Granholm? When asked to justify a bailout of failed businesses, Granholm claims “one in ten Americans is employed in this industry.” Yes Ms Granholm, but “this industry” includes plenty of healthy firms who aren’t asking anyone for a bailout. Oh, but the “national economy,” “manufacturing sector,” and “energy future” (?) depend on a bailout, threatens pleads Granholm. You decide where her political career rates on that list of bailout-dependent priorities. Oh, but there’s so much more…
Further along, Freep columnist Rochelle Riley wonders aloud “Can The Auto Industry Borrow AIG’s Lobbyist?” while exhorting Granholm to step it up. “If the American auto industry fails — and many people amazingly still don’t believe it’s possible — IT WOULD BE AN UNNATURAL DISASTER OF DEVASTATING AND INSURMOUNTABLE NATIONAL PROPORTIONS. (Yes, I’m screaming that part.)” writes Riley, drawing on the “caps lock” rhetorical technique long favored by forum trolls. “And the governor can’t seem to convince people of the urgency.” So, Granholm should conjure up even more misleading tropes (Volt=pure electric, No Detroit= No EVs, etc) to create more of a sense of urgency? Ultimately, Riley refines her argument to its headline-fulfilling conclusion. “It isn’t fair. And Michigan needs to borrow AIG’s lobbyist, the one who convinced the administration to write near blank checks to the insurance company.” MY HEAD ASPLODE! (Yes, I’m screaming that part.)
Speaking of Freep hearting its local Dems and their shared passion for rewarding (local) failure, be sure to check out their special “We Heart John Dingell” section. There you’ll find their editorial board’s fawning endorsement of Rep. John Dingell as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. You see, Dingell “fights tirelessly for the interests of the beleaguered auto industry,” and his challenger, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), is “literally a Beverly Hills Democrat.” Oh yeah, and they hand-picked five letters from readers for the website, four of which just happen to bleed Dingell love all over the page. Coincidence? Echo chambers rarely are.
Finally, a piece by former Olds-euthanasia litigator Leonid Feller offers a new (and by Freep standards, moderate) approach to a bailout. In this test balloon, the government would essentially perform brand mercy killings for any Detroit firm that wants it. Pointing out that the $2.3b spent to eliminate Oldsmobile is only one-third of the $6.9b GM burnt through last quarter, Feller sells the idea as a bargain. Still, add up all the brands GM would need euthanized (Saab, Saturn, Buick, Pontiac) and you’re back to about $10b. Still, after reading the rest of the Freep’s bailout coverage, I expected him to recommend hiring Jack Abramov to convince Obama to start selling arms to Iran, and using the profits to build Volts. The suggestion that brand cuts be “string attached” to any government aid seems downright reasonable. Y’know, relatively.