Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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August 1, 2010

A SUDDEN CHANGE OF HEART ON THE AMERICAN AUTO INDUSTRY.... As we've been talking about over the last couple of days, President Obama's decision to rescue American auto manufacturers looks awfully good with the benefit of hindsight. Republicans were apoplectic at the time, but more than a year later, we now know the GOP was wrong and the Obama White House was right.

The more amusing angle, however, is watching Republicans scramble to justify their enormous mistake. At a moment of crisis, and with the GOP's credibility on the line, Republicans made the wrong call -- but with a little revisionist history, they're hoping you won't notice.

Early last year, as this clip helps make clear, the GOP saw the bailout of the auto industry as a policy that wouldn't, and quite literally couldn't, work. It was deemed wholly unacceptable for practical reasons (it would waste money and the industry would fail anyway) and for ideological reasons (it was "Marxism" in practice). Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) proclaimed Obama's actions "truly breathtaking" and said the government ownership roles at Chrysler and GM "should send a chill through all Americans who believe in free enterprise."

Now that this same policy has been deemed an unqualified success, most Republicans are biting their tongue, embarrassed about having been wrong once again. But some GOP officials are nevertheless still talking -- and taking partial credit for the policy they perceived as the end of American capitalism.

"The ideas [Republicans] laid out there were followed through," Corker told the Washington Post. "I take some pleasure out of helping make that contribution."

Got that? Corker hated the policy last year -- it offended his notion of how the government should operate on a fundamental level -- but now that it worked, and the evidence is clear that Obama was right, he wants the public to think the president succeeded thanks to the Republican "contributions" to the policy.

This is not only a reminder of just how shameless this crowd really is, it's a reminder how fortunate America was that Republicans weren't calling the shots when the pressure was on.

Steve Benen 11:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (23)

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Whenever Republicans are "apoplectic", you can be sure you are doing the right thing.

This should be the new operating rule of the congress.

Posted by: atlliberal on August 1, 2010 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

Among the things that fascinate me about the Republicans is their ability to rewrite history so they always come out as the heroes. How do they manage to get away with that?

Posted by: PTate in MN on August 1, 2010 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

How do they manage to get away with that?

We'll have to pose that question to the investigative reporting team at Fox News.

Posted by: qwerty on August 1, 2010 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

The question is - will the Dems run ads pointing out the actual positions and then the lying by Republicans.

I'm betting no - sadly, they don't have the guts, or intelligence to do what the other side would do, even when the message would be just straight facts.

Posted by: Mark-NC on August 1, 2010 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

The GOP takes advantage of the fact that most Americans have very short memories, and most of what they remember is all jumbled up and confused.

So it's very easy to make shit up every day. The MSM plays dumb most of the time and only a few poor liberals will complain about it, and no one listens to them anyway.

Posted by: Speed on August 1, 2010 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

You do realized, don't you, that their base plus some percentage over that will believe that the GOP rescued the workers in this case.

As WJC said, as long as it keeps working they will keep doing it.

Posted by: Alan on August 1, 2010 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

Has it really "paid off?" GM has barely come out of bankruptcy and yet now they are hailed as a success?

What happens if they tank next quarter or next year? Is the bailout still a success? What if they need more money?

Posted by: Da Pup on August 1, 2010 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

"What happens if they tank next quarter or next year? Is the bailout still a success? What if they need more money?"

1) It was not a "bailout", it was a public investment in an industry deemed in the national interest to keep solvent during a period of extreme economic stress.
2) If they need more money, it can be had from the private sector. This wasn't possible a year ago.
3) If they go belly up after all this, at least it will happen in an economic climate that will lessen the impact on the overall American auto industry.

Posted by: Don Goudie on August 1, 2010 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

I am guessing that if the Republicans had been in charge they would have realized that something needed to be done, but their actions would have been half measures that would not have been enough to fix the problem. GM and Chrysler fail. " See, socialism doesn't work"

Posted by: Tom on August 1, 2010 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

What Don Goudie said is absolutely correct. Anyway I am betting the American auto manufacturers are in good position to steal a march on their Japanese competitors. We are going to be reinventing our auto fleet in the next few years to meet those higher fuel standards put in place. Rather than making the auto industry less profitable, those higher standards will make our cars more desirable overseas.

What is the most revolutionary car just now coming on the market? The Chevy Volt. When was the last time we were able to say Detroit is ahead of Japan? Everybody is trying to compete in emerging market.

Posted by: Ron Byers on August 1, 2010 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

@Ron I'm glad the gov't intervened with GM and Chrysler because the alternative was economic catastrophe. But I don't think the Volt is - at least not in its present state - the winning argument for our investment in the auto industry. It might be somewhere down the line, but check out this column from yesterday's NYTimes about "G.M.'s Electric Lemon." Revolutionary, it ain't.


And can we really say we're ahead of Japan in electric vehicles? The Prius (Toyota) is well established. The Leaf (Nissan) is by most accounts a more promising new entry than the Volt. What I can see, though, is Detroit being in a better position now than it was pre-bailout to one day catch up and eventually surpass Japan on EVs and fuel efficiency. I'm just not sure the Volt will be the pace car for this effort.

Posted by: csp on August 1, 2010 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

atlliberal: Whenever Republicans are "apoplectic", you can be sure you are doing the right thing.

House Aide: Madame Speaker, the APOPLECTIMETER is reading four.

Pelosi: Hell, we need to crank that baby up! I need legislation to nationalize Citicorp! HERE! NOW! Run, dammit, boy!

Posted by: cr on August 1, 2010 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK


Lately I have been researching fuel efficient cars. My wife and I need something to drive back and forth to work. My on conclusion is the Nissan Leaf (which after tax credits and rebates will be leased at exactly the same price as the Volt) is the lemmon. It has a range of 40 miles. It might fit my commuter needs, but I would be afraid to use it on weekends to run errands. That makes the Leaf a non-starter.

The Prius is a nice little car, but it's price point isn't much better than the comparable Volt again after the Volt's $7,500 tax credit. Toyota quality doesn't come close to matching the myth. Given a choice I think I would take the Volt. I would only burn gas on weekends.

The Volt's real problem is it is priced at $41,000. That is way too high. Without the credit it would never fly. I suspect the next generation will benefit from lower priced batteries.

Posted by: Ron Byers on August 1, 2010 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

WaPo44: Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said Sunday that Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) has "the cojones" that President Obama "does not have" to take on illegal immigration.

Perhaps those commentators here who continually question Obama's manhood ("he doesn't have the balls to...," "he needs to be a man and...")will find themselves in appropriate company.

Posted by: cr on August 1, 2010 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

By the time CNN and FucksNews are done, the Auto-bailout will be framed as Newt Gingrich's idea (he's an intellectual don't ya know).

Sara Palin will have been a staunch advocate of it, but only after twisting Obama's arm to take all of the socialism out of it.

Schmuck Todd and David Gregory will be wondering why the Obama administration didn't act on similar proposals for "Mainstreet."

Posted by: Winkandanod on August 1, 2010 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

To cr, re the Volt:

That NYT op-ed was a hit piece, and I found myself literally unable to believe what the guy wrote. Whenever Detroit has tried really to innovate in the past they have been sourly criticized--one of the reasons they have fallen so far behind their foreign counterparts, perhaps.

Posted by: jjm on August 1, 2010 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

'Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) has "the cojones"'

!?! So what Palin, the former half-term Alaska governor, is saying is that Arizona Gov Brewer is ... a transvestite?

Frankly, cojones interest me less than intelligence and backbone.

Posted by: Zandru on August 1, 2010 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

We should get the "APOPLECTIMETER" to be used every day between now and Nov.

What will they be apoplectic about tomorrow? Unemployment benefits? Obama's vacation? the energy bill?

If Republicans aren't completely apoplectic over the energy bill, then it should be fixed until they are. Then we'll know they are doing the right thing.

Posted by: atlliberal on August 1, 2010 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

If the Republicans were in power, what makes you think they wouldn't have done the same thing and talked about supporting American manufacturing businesses? You talk as if they are operating from some philosophical principles, rather than just trying to wring some political benefit out of whatever was going on.

Posted by: Evan on August 1, 2010 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

What happens if they tank next quarter or next year?
Posted by: Da Pup on August 1, 2010 at 11:19 AM

If that happens, I'm absolutely, positively, certain-sure, that Sen Bob Corker (R-Tenn) will be the first one to say:
"I take some pleasure out of helping make that contribution."

Posted by: exlibra on August 1, 2010 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

"The GOP takes advantage of the fact that most Americans have very short memories, and most of what they remember is all jumbled up and confused."

Pretty much everyone takes advantage of this. To wit, a large portion of liberals and progressives, well represented here and elsewhere in the progressive blogosphere, also vigorously opposed the so-called bailout of the auto industry. Yet there's not a single mention of that in the blog post or, until now, in these comments.

Likewise, this year there's a lot of left revisionism, or at least silence, about health care reform from the many on the left who vociferously opposed it.

Frankly, while I won't argue against the claim that the contemporary GOP and conservatism are astonishingly mendacious and second-to-none in overall dishonesty, it's the case that basically no one on either side of the aisle is virtuous with regard to owning up to past mistakes.

As I'm a progressive and I think we're better than this, I think I and others have a responsibility to remind our fellows that the GOP and conservatives don't have a monopoly on hypocrisy and revisionism.

Posted by: Keith M Ellis on August 1, 2010 at 8:41 PM | PERMALINK

It hasn't paid off; it has only delayed the inevitable. Americans were bribed into buying cars with their own tax money, unions were given control of the asylum, and people like my wife (who is actually needing to buy a car) swears it will be a cold day in hell before she buys a Government Motors Corp product. And now Government Motors comes out with a nearly $50,000 car, once the rebate is added, for the average American family?! Just wait until the real bill comes due.

Posted by: clayusmcret on August 2, 2010 at 6:19 AM | PERMALINK

The Big Lie. It works, otherwise the GOP wouldn't use it.

Posted by: Stella Cadente on August 2, 2010 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK



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