Detroit Economic Club hosts Obama.

I was looking forward to attending Obama’s speech at the economic club of Detroit today. But alas commitments at work make this impossible. However reading through the dispatches made about the speech in various newspapers, I am even more convinced that Barack Obama is one courageous politician.

He walked into a meeting of the Economic Club of Detroit and proposed raising fuel efficiency. If you know anything about Michigan politics, you know that this is such a third rail in Michigan that even the Democrats from this area oppose raising CAFE standards. You don’t mess with the big three automakers and their addiction to profits gained from producing big gaz guzzling sport utility vehicles.

But Barack look them in the eye and told them the truth. Here is a passage from the New York times coverage of the event:

“For years, while foreign competitors were investing in more fuel-efficient technology for their vehicles, American automakers were spending their time
investing in bigger, faster cars,” he said, according to a text of his remarks.
“And whenever an attempt was made to raise our fuel efficiency standards, the
auto companies would lobby furiously against it, spending millions to prevent
the very reform that could’ve saved their industry.” In his speech, Mr.
Obama proposed stricter fuel economy standards, greater availability of tax
credits to consumers who buy hybrids or other ultra-efficient vehicles and
subsidies to help automakers pay health care expenses in return for greater
investment in advanced technology…

Leadership is effectively telling people something they may not be pre-disposed to hearing. Obama is right on this issue. And its not something that can be chalked up to evil-doing on Detroit’s part, so much as simply their deeply ingrained corporate culture that dictates “Americans want bigger and more powerful cars, not efficient cars”… I don’t know where they picked up that notion, but its simply not true.

Obama is telling them the hard truth. And he didn’t say this at a rally as a way to pander to crowds of consumers — he went to where he could most effect change on the issue, the automakers themselves, to sell them on change. He’s about results, at the end of the day.


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