What a week for the auto industry. From the collective begging for a bailout from Washington, to the parody by "Saturday Night Live" of their testimony, this was truly one of Detroit's worst hours. Keith Crain, chairman of Plastics News' parent company Crain Communications, has a good column in today's issue of Crain's Detroit Business about the mess. It is headlined: "It was a lousy week for us in Washington." The column laments Democrats' decision to strip John Dingell of his chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and give it to Henry Waxman, who Crain calls "a congressman from California who will never learn as much about the automobile industry and industrial America as John Dingell has forgotten." His evaluation of the Big 3 executives isn't a lot better, calling it "a public-relations nightmare for all three gentlemen to swoop into D.C. on three separate Gulfstream corporate jets to ask for billions of dollars in federal assistance."
Sadly, the captains of industry did not present their case well. It was almost as if they hadn't had any coaching in preparation for their appearances. But the politicians -- both from Michigan and those running the hearings -- weren't very good, either. All in all, it was a lousy week for Detroit.Will the Big 3 get a bailout? Will General Motors file for Chapter 11? I wouldn't bet on either outcome right now. I'm sure a lot of Plastics News readers are still holding their breath and hoping for a miracle. But the results of our Web poll indicate that there are many others -- a majority, actually -- who think the market should decide if these companies fail.