How Many More Victory Laps Will the White House Take?

President Barack Obama makes a statement on his birth certificate at the White House in Washington, DC, on April 27, 2011.
Jewel Samad |AFP | Getty Images
President Barack Obama makes a statement on his birth certificate at the White House in Washington, DC, on April 27, 2011.

Later this week, President Obama will go to a Chrysler plant to talk about the once bankrupt automaker which has fully re-paid bail out loans from the federal government.

In other words, it's a victory lap for President Obama and his Auto Task Force.

So what's the problem with it?

Nothing much, except one has to wonder if the auto industry is tiring of the President and/or his top lieutenants coming back to take yet another bow.

Remember, just last week auto czar Ron Bloom, who was part of the Obama team that crafted the auto bail out/bankruptcy plan, was at a Chrysler plant in Detroit to applaud CEO Sergio Marchionne when he announced Chrysler had re-paid Uncle Sam. After that event Marchionne was asked if he would do a commercial like GM's CEO Ed Whitacre Jr. saying his company had re-paid its loans. Marchionne smiled and said, "I am sorry I am being brash but when you owe money to people and you pay them back you shouldn't be celebrating. You just cut them a check and send them home and say thank you on your way out"

The White House and President Obama may look at Marchionne's comments and think to themselves, "Hey, we saved your bacon. If we want to remind the American people that our plan worked, you'll smile and say thank you."

True, the auto bail out was an unqualified success and President Obama deserves full credit for stepping in and keeping the industry from imploding. The plan for a structured bankruptcy at GM and Chrysler stabilized not only the automakers, but their suppliers as well. Since then 115,000 jobs have been added. Even some of the most conservative and critical executives in the auto industry will tell you the President deserves full credit.

But at what point is enough? Vice President Biden was at Chrysler's Toledo, Ohio plant just last August. We've seen the President and/or his auto team at GM and Ford plants. I interviewed him at the Ford plant here in Chicago last summer. In other words, we've heard this story before.

Let's be clear, no auto executive will turn down the President if he asks to visit their plant. He is after all, the President of the United States. And Ohio is a critical state to win if he's going to be re-elected in two years. By then, will people remember how the Obama administration saved GM and Chrysler? If not, you can be sure he'll be on an assembly line reminding them.

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