The Emperor Has No Clothes, Detroit edition

by Henry Payne

Detroit –
Hans Christian Anderson, meet Barack Obama. Has there been a better modern staging of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” than the president’s visit to Ford’s Wayne Assembly Plant Wednesday?

Selected to demonstrate the wisdom of Emperor – er, President — Obama’s taxpayer subsidies for building hybrid and fuel-efficient cars, the plant was inconveniently closed for lack of demand. In 2014, SUVs and light trucks have dominated U.S. sales.

But Obama gave his speech in the closed plant anyway, hoping no one noticed. “A century since Henry Ford introduced the moving assembly line, you’re reinventing it — one production line for gas, electric, hybrid, plug-in vehicles,” said Obama before pivoting to more general remarks celebrating his auto bailout of five years ago — a rehash of 2012 campaign speeches.

Pity Ford CEO Mark Fields (how do you turn down a presidential visit?), who had to show off one of the least productive facilities in an otherwise healthy Ford empire. Fields tried to paper over the White House’s awkward choice of plant by importing profitable vehicles from other facilities like the Ford F-150 pickup and Ford Mustang as a backdrop for the president’s remarks. “I wanted to come here to Michigan because this state proves no matter how tough times get, Americans are tougher,” Obama told an audience of 750. “Plus, I wanted to see the new Mustang.”

But the Mustang isn’t built in Wayne. It’s built miles away in Flat Rock, Michigan. And the F-150 is built nearby in Dearborn. Both are profitable. Both are selling like hotcakes. But those plants don’t fit Obama’s green narrative.

The president also caused whiplash by taking credit for America’s carbon energy boom (a development he has scoffed at) and cheering low gas prices (“It’s helping to save drivers about a buck-ten a gallon”) — just two months after applauding higher gas prices abroad to fight global warming.

“When you (want to make gasoline cheaper), those economies are very inefficient in how they use energy, and they generate more pollution,” he told a student audience in Burma.

After his speech at the warming-fighting plant, Obama stepped out into a brutal, 8-degree January day, as Detroit endures another harsh winter. More evidence that reality is not cooperating with his narrative. The emperor must be shivering.

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