No reasonably intelligent politician wants to become the Obama administration’s car czar. That’s because if one or more of our venerable Detroit automakers bite the dust under a czar’s watch, it’s his or her fault. Since the new president has appointed key administration and cabinet officials to press his aggressive green agenda, there are few advocates for good business judgment to pick from. And probably fewer who have spent time in the driver’s seat of a car.
So far, we’ve learned that there will be not one but two czars: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and National Economic Council Director Lawrence Summers. The two will oversee an across-the-government panel of officials from the Treasury, Labor, Transportation, Commerce and Energy departments, as well as the National Economic Council, the White House Office of Energy and Environment, the Council of Economic Advisers, and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Anyone who thinks this gaggle of Beltway bureaucrats will accomplish anything that resembles change Detroit can live with is living in a universe that’s dramatically different than mine. It’s like counting on Barney Frank and Chris Dodd to help fix the financial system.
So after thoughtful consideration and employing my trusty dartboard, I’ve come up with my own panel of people who could give automakers advice that they could actually put to use. Some are true car enthusiasts and all are known and admired by the American public — a phenomenon that’s unlikely with the president’s pundits. I’ve decided that the goals should be to build cars fellow taxpayers want and make money for shareholders after paying back the loans.
I’ve started with Jay Leno, a great guy who earns lots of money entertaining people to support his voracious car habit. Jay would be in charge of performance, something he lives for. It doesn’t matter whether it runs on gasoline, electricity, or recycled French fries, if the result doesn’t produce a grin, Jay will surely veto the effort.