Horsepower and the American Dream


Embarrassed by America’s riches, the Obama administration is systematically weakening the sinew of America’s economy — from its cheap power supply to its health care delivery system. But perhaps no single area is as symbolic of American liberty as the automobile, and there is no greater symbol of individual choice than the Hummer. Whether it makes your heart race or not (I’m in the latter camp), it is an iconic symbol of American brawn and our frontiersy, go-anywhere attitude.

The sale of the Hummer brand from GM’s stable to the Chinese, then, is something larger than the purchase of a U.S. company by an upstart superpower. It is a milepost on the Obama administration’s journey away from liberty.

The sale’s significance was not lost on Hummer’s suitor, Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Co. “The Hummer brand is synonymous with adventure, freedom, and exhilaration,” said CEO Yang Zi about a brand that America’s Left despises for the same reasons, “and we plan to continue that heritage by investing in the business.”

Despite the Hummer’s place in American culture — it was embraced by cigar-chomping movie heroes like Schwarzenegger and mobbed by auto-show attendees in city after city — Democratic allies in the U.S. press corps demonized it. “China’s embrace of a brand notorious for gas-guzzling,” sneered a Wall Street Journal Page One news account Wednesday, “will spotlight China’s own struggle to contain the environmental effects of a growing obsession with the automobile.” For 100 years, that same “obsession” was America’s, allowing us to live and travel where we wanted — free to go anywhere the open road might take us.

The sale came in the same week that the Obama administration embraced Fiat’s tiny 500 subcompact — a car that piously green Democrats desperately want Americans to drive. So desperate, in fact, that the administration has offered Fiat a 35 percent stake in Chrysler if it will only produce a version of the 40-mpg 500 in the States.

The 500 is a symbol, not of freedom, but of excessive fuel taxation in Europe and of onerous mpg regulations in the United States that force American manufacturers to make subcompacts  — whether customers want them or not. (Indeed, while Hummer execs remain concerned about the new mpg regulations, it will be easier as a foreign manufacturer to ignore them and pay fines as other foreign brands like BMW have done for years.)

Goodbye Hummer muscle. Hello Fiat milquetoast.


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