Car Wars

By Fred Barnes, The Weekly Standard

The folks at General Motors are blessed with more foresight than you might have suspected. They were prepared when Vice President Joe Biden wanted to address a United Auto Workers rally at the GM plant in Toledo, Ohio, that manufactures transmissions. Sorry, they informed the vice president’s office, but we have a corporate policy that prohibits campaign events at any GM facility. So on March 15, Biden spoke to union members in Toledo at the main hall of UAW Local 12.

The policy is a product of post-bankruptcy General Motors, the company that wants to build cars and trucks and stay as far away from campaign politics as possible, especially presidential politics. The rule was instituted out of fear that President Obama, Biden, and administration officials would seek to use GM plants as campaign backdrops. And Republicans and conservatives—potential car buyers!—would see GM showrooms as Obama’s turf and stay away. Given the partisan bombast in Biden’s speech, one can understand their apprehension.

“Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich—these guys have a fundamentally different economic philosophy than we do,” Biden said. “Simply stated, we’re about promoting the private sector. They’re about protecting the privileged sector. We are for a fair shot and a fair shake. They’re about no rules, no risks, and no accountability.”

Worse, Republicans were ready in 2009 to let the American auto industry collapse, at the cost of 1 million jobs, he said. “But the guy I work with every day, the president, he didn’t flinch. This is a man with steel in his spine. .  .  . He made the tough call and the verdict is in.” Obama saved GM, Chrysler—and even Ford, though it received no money in the government bailout of the auto industry.

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