Thursday, May 14, 2009



I wrote the following letter to AutoWeek in response to a column by Dutch Mandel, one of the better automotive journalists, heaping adulation on Fritz Henderson as a “car guy” who will not turn GM into “Government Motors and produce only neutered enviro-boxes built not to offend.” It’s worth sharing with readers of the Pontificator:


I didn’t know Dutch Mandel could be so naïve. (“Spending Time with Fritz, the GM Cat,” Offside Undo, 5/18/09). Fritz Henderson may be “a finance man in a product guy’s body.” He may very well be “one of us.” But it doesn’t matter; Fritz Henderson does not, and will never, run GM. The government, which will own 50% of the “new” GM, is in charge of GM and will remain in charge of GM for the foreseeable future. Even if Mr. Henderson is as enthusiastic about the Camaro and the C7 as Mr. Mandel thinks, this enthusiasm will count for bupkus if the Obama administration and the Congress do not share it. (How excited do you think, say, Nancy Pelosi is about the new C7?) And if Mr. Henderson fails to do the bidding of his federal overlords, he will be summarily dismissed just like his ex-boss Rick Wagoner.

If Mr. Mandel is correct in his assertion that Mr. Henderson “does not suffer fools,” Mr. Henderson’s prospects for success, or even for holding onto his job, are limited. Suffering fools will be a very valuable, indeed essential, skill in dealing with the people who will really be running GM.

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