Posts from ‘Political Issues’
We all know politicians will say anything, even if it requires standing logic on its head, and Mitt Romney is a fine politician. For example, in a May 7, 2012, interview with a Cleveland TV station, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee took credit for something he had railed against in the first place: the government-ordered, taxpayer-funded 2009 bailout of Chrysler Group and the then General Motors Corporation. At the same time, however, Mr. Romney stated that he also favored the very action taken by the Obama Administration to save the two automakers. So, another case of that now-familiar stance on the Iraq War: “I was against it before I was for it.”
Being a minor Trekker (please, not “Trekkie”), I’m somehow reminded of the original-series episode “Mirror, Mirror,” in which members of the Starship Enterprise crew exchange places with evil twins from a parallel universe. As Mr. Romney has long been criticized for flip-flopping on various issues, perhaps there are actually two Mitts, each of whom appears as circumstances require but are never seen at the same time. Rather like Clark Kent and Superman, only less heroic. But I digress . . . .
Carmakers are no strangers to event sponsorships. Most luxury makers have reached out to golf enthusiasts by working with the PGA and LPGA, and Kia has rather famously embraced the NBA. Looking outside the box, some makers latch on to more peripheral activities. For 2012, Mini became the official sponsor of Table Tennis Canada (TTCAN).
But for a maker looking to reach an audience beyond the sports crowd, where is there to turn? If not athletes, then maybe newsmakers of note. . . .
What if a maker could align its product with some of the most significant global movers and shakers of the last 25 years? What if, say, Jeep, were to be the official provider of transportation for the World Summit of Peace Laureates? Who might be seen riding in their vehicles?
As it so happens, that event—which is taking place this week in Chicago—is sponsored in part by Jeep. “The Jeep brand is honored to provide transportation for the esteemed Nobel Peace Laureates who have dedicated their lives to causes affecting world peace,” said Mike Manley, president and CEO of the Jeep Brand.
In a stunning about-face, Fox News now seemingly loves the Chevrolet Volt.
A victim of partisan politics since its introduction, Volt became a symbol of everything commentators on the popular conservative news channel found troubling about President Barack Obama and especially the auto-industry bailout.
Quite suddenly, everything has changed.
In an interview on Fox & Friends earlier this week, Lee Spieckerman, a self-described political conservative and the CEO of Spieckerman Media, lamented the “bad rap” the Volt has been getting on Fox. In his words, he was “setting the record straight.”
In the process of debunking a number of popularly believed Volt misconceptions—most significantly, the belief that the current president forced
General Motors to build the car—Spieckerman described the Volt as “a wonderful vehicle” and “an anti-terrorist weapon.”
In the five-minute interview, host Steve Doocy fully supported Spieckerman’s commentary. Doocy added that he had recently test drove the Volt and found it to be a “cool car” that was as “smooth as glass.” The Fox graphics department put up a chart proclaiming how much less oil the U.S. would have to import if 30 million Americans drove Volts.
I’m not some anti-government whiner. I pay my taxes, am glad that my water’s clean, and really appreciate the fact that someone plows my street when the snows come. Additionally, I am pretty darn happy about most of the safety equipment on my car.
Airbags and antilock brakes are, inarguably, among the best things Uncle Sam has foisted on the driving public. If you’ve tried to brake on a slick surface or survived an impact involving airbag deployment, you’ll likely agree.
On the list of more dubious mandates are things like bumper standards. Since vehicles are already crash tested to determine human survivability, bumper standards really only serve to reduce the cost to car owners of minor impacts. While I appreciate the effort, I wince a little knowing that the government is making my car cost more now so that it might cost me less later.
But now the federal government wants to be sure that I am using my mirrors—or more correctly, don’t need to use them. Proposed legislation now being shaped by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) would mandate that by 2014, every vehicle sold in the U.S. is equipped with a backup safety camera.
As mentioned in Driven to Distraction: Part 1, the federal government has come out against distracted driving (DD) in general and texting from hand-held phones in particular. Not surprisingly, the Department of Transportation (DOT) seems on the verge of requiring automakers to install “anti-DD” systems that would disable certain phone functions once the vehicle is in motion. I’m not sure what they’re thinking of—perhaps some whizzer “damping field” a la Star Trek—but the technology is doubtless on somebody’s shelf. However, it’s odd that the DOT is okay with voice-activated devices, as various studies have found that drivers are more distracted by phone conversations than by chatting with people in the car—which must be discouraging for all those helpful live operators at OnStar.
The thing is, distracted driving is a behavioral matter—like smoking, DUI, and seatbelt use—yet political realities mean that the only practical way that government can address it is by regulating things. After all, cars don’t vote and Americans tend to regard driving as an inalienable right, not the privilege it really is. This helps explain why even the dimmest wit can get a driver’s license in these United States while most others countries make it both difficult and costly.