Obama's New GM

Posted: Apr 03, 2009 1:08 PM
Obama's New GM

I'd like to know where to file my application to become one of the president's appointees to join the remade Board of Directors of General Motors. I don't know a lick about making or selling cars, but I think I have a pretty persuasive case to make for membership nonetheless.

First off, in the new era biography is everything, and I grew up in a car town --Warren, Ohio. It was home to the old Packard Electric and still is the next door neighbor to Lordstown, still turning out excellent GM cars and slated to produce the Cruise in the next couple of years.

I am a member of a union. Now, the American Federation of Radio and Television Artists isn't exactly the UAW, but hey, it is a union.

I can talk a good game, pretty much about anything. The marketing advantages of having a nationally-syndicated talk show host on the Board and extolling the new "green" brands every day should be obvious.

My ace in the hole, though, is I used to be the Deputy Director and General Counsel of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the successor agency to the old Civil Service Commission. I served at OPM from 1986 through the beginning of the first President Bush's term, and was even confirmed in the #2 job by a unanimous vote for the Senate. Teddy Kennedy and Robert Byrd voted for me. How bipartisan does a man's support have to be?

OPM is in charge of the hiring, firing, and retiring of the nation's 2 million or so federal civilian employees. Health care, security background checks, charity drives --you name it and I have helped regulate it. As GM appears to be going the way of becoming just another governmental agency, this is the invaluable background experience I offer. When it becomes impossible to discipline or reassign recalcitrant employees, I won't be frustrated in the least. Been there and done that, a lot.

Now the whole manufacturing side of the business is a bit of a question mark. Ditto design. I haven't changed oil or a tire in 30 years. I am not sure if carburetors even exist anymore.

But I did serve for a time on the board of the South Coast Air Quality Management District, which regulated emissions throughout southern California, so I am prepared for the mandated-though-impossible-to-achieve mileage and emission standards of the near future.

In short, the perfect resume for the new, government-managed GM. What worries me most is that the nominees the president comes up with might actually know a lot less about the car business, or the government business, which is what the former is rapidly going to become. I expect a lot of hedge-fund Democrats to appear on the board, very knowledgeable in the ways of the board of Fannie and Freddie, but lacking even a drive-by a real car plant.