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The Fox is Now Guarding the GM Henhouse

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Originally published June 12, 2009

By Marc J. Rauch
Exec. Vice President/Co-Publisher

General Motors is in need of a complete overhaul…obviously.

They need to get rid of the dead-weight in both product and personnel, which they appear to be trying to do if you don’t count Buick and Pontiac.

They have to regain the trust of investors and recapture the imagination of consumers willing to plunk down tens of thousands of dollars to buy a new car.

And they must embrace and fully accept new technologies and alternative energy solutions.

Instead, they did the worst thing they could do; they brought in a guy who sits on the board of ExxonMobil. This is almost as bad as asking Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to fill in as the new security person at the National Holocaust Museum.*

GM’s new Chairman, Edward E. Whitacre, Jr., appears to have none of the aptitudes needed for the job, based on his job history. And worst of all, coming from the camp of the gasoline-enemy, how is he to lead GM away from its gasoline-guzzling, Oldsmobile-like-stodgy legacy?

Incidentally, last autumn, when the U.S. car companies first went to Congress to beg for money, I wrote that the gasoline companies and the OPEC members should be the ones bailing the carmakers out, not the American tax payers. You’ll note that there wasn’t a peep out of any of the gasoline companies to help out the carmakers, even though ExxonMobil could have handled the entire amount from their one-year profits.

Okay, maybe Whitacre is a sheep in fox clothing. Maybe he’ll shock us all (me in particular) and reveal himself to be against OPEC and oil, be on the side of a clean environment, and fight for truth, justice and the mythical American Way. Boy, wouldn’t that be wonderful! I don’t think that will happen; I just threw that bit of optimism in so that it doesn’t seem like I’m simply a cranky pessimist.

But come on, what the hell is going on here. First Obama appoints a business experience-virgin teenager to oversee GM’s bankruptcy (okay, he’s not a teenager, he’s 31…like there’s a difference), and now an AT&T, ExxonMobil old fart will be coming in to lead General Motors into the brave new future. Hello, does anyone in Detroit have a working brain?

I know this editorial will cost The Auto Channel some future advertising business from GM, but you know what, I don’t give a damn. I'm a shareholder in GM and I think General Motors is downright wrong. They’re screwing the public, and they’re bucking for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the REAL bankruptcy filing, in the very near future if they don't cut the crap.

*I admit I have gone overboard on this analogy. My sympathies are with the family of Stephen Johns.