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July 31, 2009

Mr. President, Let Me Run GM


The Honorable Barack H. Obama

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Washington, D.C.

Who cares about zip codes? I’m e-mailing this.


Dear Mr. President,


I understand you’ve been patching together a board of directors and a management team for General Motors, the company you are not trying to run. Looks like you’ve completed a job . . . er, done.


The new board is just about in place, and in a rather impressive feat of outside-the-box thinking, you’ve managed to appoint a board of directors for a car company with basically no car company experience whatsoever.


Bold! Some criticize this, but I like it. It shows that you recognize the auto industry has become stuck in conventional thinking that keeps recycling the same old inertia, with the same old results. It’s good to get people in there who don’t assume, for example, that everyone will buy sub-quality cars at jacked-up prices just because they were made at the factory down the street.


Granted, there will be some interesting questions asked at the board meetings, like, “What’s a steering wheel?” But given the alternative, I actually think that’s an easier problem to manage.


Which brings us to the new GM management team. Since you’re committed to new blood and new thinking, I couldn’t wait to see the fresh faces who would be taking the new plan and making it work. Let’s see here . . . oh my.


Fritz Henderson? Bob Lutz? Ray Yung? Tom Stephens? Gosh, sir, you know, I can’t help but notice . . . these are the same slugs who ran the company into the ground and left it to come crying to Washington for a bailout. (Oh, sorry, “bridge loan” to prevent bankruptcy, which wasn’t an option, except that it happened after all, but only after the taxpayers committed $70 billion to prevent it.)


So. This crew again. You know, it’s funny, because the Detroit Lions are run by the Ford family, and Ford is the only one of the Big Three that didn’t take a federal bailout. And yet GM runs more like the 0-16 Lions than Ford does, seeing as how they dumped their CEO but then just put his long-time deputies in charge.


So we’ve got a board filled with outsiders who have no experience in the car industry. And we’ve got a management team full of lifetime GM lackeys who know nothing of anything but GM inertia.


What could go wrong?


This is where I come in. Mr. President, I want you to make me the CEO of General Motors. There are several good reasons you should do this:


  1. I could use the raise, and even though you won’t let GM pay me what the job is worth – turning around this disaster? – it would still represent a pretty darn nice upgrade for me.
  2. You need a CEO who will look at members of the management team when they want to do something stupid and make them feel like morons without saying a word. This is my specialty. I think just about every idea is idiotic, so my instincts will almost never be wrong inside the hallowed halls of RenCen.
  3. On the matter of quality surveys, I know the difference between the irrelevant ones (J.D. Power & Associates, Motor Trend) and the ones that actually matter (where consumer dollars go). I believe I would be the first CEO in the history of GM to recognize this distinction.
  4. The board will be able to relate to me. When an engineer mentions torque, and some board member says, “I thought that was the drummer from the Monkees,” I’ll say that’s what I thought, too. This will be good for harmony.
  5. If the UAW threatens to strike, I’ll just let them. What do I care? When they’re actually working, they don’t work much harder than they would on strike. And since the management team you’d be sticking me with is just a bunch of promoted grunts anyway, I’ll let them go run the line.


I’m completely unqualified, would be totally out of place and would make decisions based almost entirely on impulse – all while answering to a committee of clueless poseurs.


I realize that wouldn’t be much of a selling point to most people. But Mr. President, I have a feeling you will see the wisdom of it.


© 2009 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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