How is Barack Obama, America's King Solomon elect, going to make a decision on whether he should save or whether he should kill the American car industry?
This past week, mainstream American media has transformed itself into a debating chamber between the pro and anti Detroit lobbies. On Sunday's Meet the Press, we first heard a passionate exchange between Senators Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Carl Levin (D-MI) on the long-term pros and cons of letting the American automobile industry die and then some valuably calibrated perspectives on this incredibly complex issue from Texan oil and wind man T Boone Pickens, Thomas Hot Flat and Crowded Friedman and Katty Kay, the BBC's Washington correspondent. The grown-up newspapers are also full of this debate. In this morning's New York Times, for example, Mitt Romney wants something he euphemistically calls a managed bankruptcy; while in this morning's Wall Street Journal, Rick Waggoner, the CEO of GM, explains Why GM Deserves Support.
It's going to a really hard decision for Obama -- almost as tricky and controversial, I fear, as figuring out whether Hillary should be the next Secretary of State. So rather than listening to elites (who, some might say, got us into this confusing mess in the first place), maybe Obama should disintermediate these mainstream media notables and go onto the Internet where he can hear the judgment of the ordinary people, that wise crowd who elected him to office in the first place. He could go, for example, to YouTube, where a group called GMBlogs ( in truth: General Motor's home for corporate blogs) put out a four minute video entitled "The US auto industry and the Ripple Effect" which argues in favor of saving Detroit. This video has been watched over 209,000 times and has generated over 1,500 mainly negative comments from viewers including such thoughtful insights into Detroit's seemingly terminal decline as:
-- SHOULDA WOKE UP A LONG TIME AGO
-- FUCK UAW!!
-- FUCK EM ALL!!
I'm not sure about the real ripple effect of bankrupting the US auto industry, but I am pretty certain of the ripple effect of plebiscitory digital democracy on the long-term health of America's economy and society. I just hope that Obama watches curated shows like Meet the Press and reads edited newspapers like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal rather than relying on unmediated YouTube commentary. The future of the American automobile industry, I'm afraid, is too important to be determined by the will of the crowd.