The faking of a president

Jan. 1, 2020
In case you have turned away from the political bickering between presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama, you missed out on the automotive aftermarket taking center stage in the national energy debate. When Obama reminded Americans to k
In case you have turned away from the political bickering between presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama, you missed out on the automotive aftermarket taking center stage in the national energy debate. When Obama reminded Americans to keep their cars tuned up and tires properly inflated, he inferred that we wouldn't have to go off half-cocked drilling for new oil. Within hours, the masterminds of the McCain campaign, who like to play to the lowest common denominator, took mockery to a new low by handing out "Barack Obama Energy Plan" tire gauges. Not one to be swiftboated, Obama shot back that proper tire inflation can help motorists improve gas mileage by 3 to 4 percent, a fact well known in the aftermarket and backed up by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), which adds that cost savings could be as much as 12 cents per gallon. Also, inflating tires to their proper pressure will have immediate results, according to DOT, unlike new drilling, which won't yield benefits for at least seven years.

Just when I thought Obama could become the poster child for the aftermarket, he showed his weakness, which is the same weakness that McCain has — say whatever you think you have to say to get elected. And with the polls showing that a majority of Americans think we need to drill for new oil, Obama folded like a cheap card table. Looks like political pressure beats tire pressure logic every time.

As this political nonsense was raging, I received an unsolicited e-mail with the subject line "Iacocca for President." It was chock-full of excerpts from Lee Iacocca's latest book "Where Have All the Leaders Gone?" Iacocca, who saved Chrysler from ruin in the late '70s, has never been one to hold his tongue. And even at 82, the lashing he gives our politicians, particularly President Bush, is as viper-like as ever. Here's a taste of some of the venom:

"Am I the only guy in this country who's fed up with what's happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder. We've got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we've got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can' t even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car.

"We're running the biggest deficit in the history of the country.We're losing the manufacturing edge to Asia, while our once great companies are getting slaughtered by health care costs. Gas prices are skyrocketing, and nobody in power has a coherent energy policy. Our schools are in trouble. Our borders are like sieves. The middle class is being squeezed every which way. These are the times that cry out for leadership."

Indeed, but the reality is that we're going to elect another president based mostly on their sound bites and attack ads. What we need are real debates on all of the above issues. But the "debates" that will be held will be performances where the candidates will simply extol pieces of their memorized stump speeches. Believe me, when the energy policy issue comes up in the debates, it will be drilling versus tire pressure all over again.

As much as I would like to see Iacocca mix it up with the two mainstream candidates, I have to admit that he's probably too old to go the distance. But in lieu of not being able to draft Iacocca, it's not too late to throw Jesse Ventura's name into the ring. That would assure us of the circus we apparently want.

Larry Silvey, a 25-year veteran of the automotive aftermarket, is editor-in-chief of Aftermarket Business and editorial director for the Advanstar Automotive Group, which consists of Aftermarket Business, Motor Age, ABRN and Styling and Performance.

LARRY SILVEY Editor-in-Chief/Group Editorial Director