Quote Of The Day: The White House Doesn't Heart TTAC Edition

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

When the New York Times asked me to write an editorial about the Chevrolet Volt, it never occurred to me that it would be published on the day that Barack Obama toured Michigan’s auto plants touting the success of the auto bailout. Because of this timing, however, my piece was apparently taken as a partisan attack on the White House… and it touched a nerve. How do I know? Because, according to the Washington Examiner, on the Air Force One flight back to Washington D.C., White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs joined a proud tradition that dates back to at least my first year of kindergarten: he made a Niedermeyer-based funny.

“Did you guys ever see ‘Animal House?’ Right?” Gibbs asked reporters on Air Force One. “Remember when they go, ‘Neidermeyer dead?’ I’d say his argument is largely there.”

I always feel a little trepidation about abandoning the internet for a weekend in order to focus on a new car review (2011 Jetta, coming soon), but never in my most paranoid moments did I imagine that I’d come back to find the White House press secretary comparing me to the villain of Animal House.

But far more disappointing than Gibbs’ decision to lash out at me for pointing out inconvenient truths in the midst of the auto bailout’s “Mission Accomplished” moment, was his choice of joke. On the continuum of jokes made throughout my life at the expense of my last name, Gibbs’ jab rates at about the sixth-grade level. “How does it feel to be an asshole, Neidermeyer?” would have been more clever, substantive and faithful to the original script. As would “give it to Neidermeyer, he’s a sneaky little shit.”

Worst of all, I’m now writing a post that is entirely about politics, and in no way related to a car or the industry that builds them. I am fascinated by the interface between automobiles and politics, whether discussing the bailout and EV subsidies on the federal level, or red-light cameras on the local level (and all points in between), but TTAC is not a political site. I’ve spent enough time observing (and yes, studying) politics to know that it has a tendency to consume everything in its path, and I’ve tried to be careful to ensure that TTAC does not become subsumed by political discussions. Perhaps more importantly, as a moderate at heart, and someone who tries to prioritize curiosity over dogma, I’ve tried to keep TTAC from being a partisan echo chamber for either side of the aisle. I have my perspectives and biases on any number of political issues, but I’ve never believed that the truth is simple. Or that dissent is best squashed with a schoolyard put-down. Which, to be perfectly honest, was one of the main reasons I voted for Barack Obama back in 2008 (N.B. this is not an invitation to dissect my personal political choices).

In any case, TTAC will continue to explore the undeniable relationship between politics and automobiles, undaunted by Gibbs’ glib jibe. If anything, it proves the importance of what we do here… and it’s the perfect opportunity to clarify that TTAC is nobody’s schill. We call it like we see it without regard to the political program of either party, for the simple reason that everyone deserves the truth. Moreover, we invite intelligent rebuttal to anything we publish because I believe that the truth is a process rather than a destination.

And that, gentle readers, is why I love cars [and why TTAC has a Whiskey Tango Foxtrot category].

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • Whatever Whatever on Feb 25, 2011

    classy response, glad to see the high road is still in service.

  • Spitfire77 Spitfire77 on Mar 13, 2011

    Ed: "On the continuum of jokes made throughout my life at the expense of my last name, Gibbs’ jab rates at about the sixth-grade level." Since I have a very unusual last name, I have lived that attitude all my life from people who are bully-types in school and who think they are "funny" as adults. Gibbs is a jerk. I don't care for his boss either. So anything that gets them agitated, I probably like. I'll be happy when they are gone. Cheers!

  • Canam23 I believe the Chinese are entirely capable of building good cars, BYD has shown that they are very forward thinking and their battery technology is very good, BUT, I won't buy one because I don't believe in close to slave labor conditions, their animosity to the west, the lack of safety conditions for their workers and also the tremendous amount of pollution their factories produce. It's not an equal playing field and when I buy a car I want it made with as little pollution as possible in decent working conditions and paying a livable wage. I find it curious that people are taking swipes at the UAW in this thread because you can clearly see what horrific labor conditions exist in China, no union to protect them. I also don't own an iphone, I prefer my phones made where there aren't nets around to catch possible suicide jumpers. I am currently living in France, Citroen makes their top model in China, but you see very few. BYD has yet to make an impression here and the French government has recently imposed huge tariffs on Chinese autos. Currently the ones I see the most are the new MG's, mostly electric cars that remind me of early Korean cars, but they are progressing. In fact, the French buy very little Chinese goods, they are very protective of their industries.
  • Jerry Haan I have these same lights, and the light output, color, and coverage is amazing!Be aware, these lights interfere with AM and FM radio reception with the stereoreceiver I have in my garage. When the lights are on, I all the AM stations havelots of static, and there are only a couple of FM stations that are clear. When Iturn the lights off, all the radio stations work fine. I have tried magnetic cores on the power cords of the lights, that did not makeany change. The next thing I am going to try is mounting an antenna in my atticto get them away from the lights. I contacted the company for support, they never responded.
  • Lou_BC Are Hot Wheels cars made in China?
  • DS No for 2 reasons. 1-Every new car pipelines data back to the manufacturer; I don't like it with domestic, Japanese and Euro companies and won't put up with it going to Chinese companies that are part financed by their government. 2-People have already mentioned Vinfast, but there's also the case of Hyundai. Their cars were absolutely miserable for years before they learned enough about the US market
  • Theflyersfan Well, if you're on a Samsung phone, (noticing all of the shipping boxes are half Vietnamese), you're using a Vietnam-built phone. Apple? Most of ours in the warehouse say China, but they are trying to spread out to other countries because putting all eggs in the Chinese basket right now is not wise. I'm asking Apple users here (the point of above) - if you're OK using an expensive iPhone, where is your Made in China line in the sand? Can't stress this enough - not being confrontational. I am curious, that's all. Is it because Apple is California-based that manufacturing location doesn't matter, vs a company in a Beijing skyscraper? We have all weekend to hopefully have a civil discussion about how much is too much when it comes to supporting companies being HQ-ed in adversarial countries. I, for one, can't pull the trigger on a Chinese car. All kinds of reasons - political, human rights, war mongering and land grabbing - my morality is ruling my decisions with them.