There's been a great deal of blog-chatter about the State of Obama lately, with its defenders offering the passage of HCR, the stimulus, financial reform, energy legislation in the House, etc, and its detractors complaining about the inadequacies of much of the accomplishments, not to mention the Administration's war, civil liberties and civil rights policies being mostly lacking.
One thing I don't hear much discussion of (besides conservative complaints about it being a bailout or takeover of the industry) has been the survival, if not outright revival, of the U.S. auto industry, particularly that of Chrysler and GM. When the Obama Administration took office, these two key automakers were entering into bankruptcy or worse. Some erstwhile American "patriots" seem to wish them to die off. So on top of trying to revive the economy in general, Obama faced the potential vanishment of at least two members of the U.S. auto industry's Big Three, not exactly an encouraging prospect.
To preserve two of the premier pillars of American capitalism, the Obama Administration did take an assertive approach: buying company stock and pushing for company reorganizations, among other tactics. While a few steps were taken earlier, the Administration rolled out the parameters of its plan in March of 2009. General Motors streamlined itself, eliminating the product lines of Saturn and Pontiac. Since then, GM and Chrysler have begun paying back government loans, the Toyota car company experienced notorious safety recalls, and the U.S. industry seems to have returned, albeit in a slightly different form and admittedly not to the level of its boom years. But the companies are continuing to do business and represent America in the world of manufacturing, something we elsewhere aren't doing much of these days.
It seems to me like this is a rather under-reported story. Perhaps it's a bit too early to say how Chrysler and GM will ultimately fair. But if we're going to assess the Administration, its record with the auto companies seems like a rightful element to consider. The Administration could help by giving the country an update as to the industry's progress and engaging in a little self-promotion, if such is warranted. And maybe our press, along with liberal bloggers disenchanted with the president, could take note.
Consider a counter-factual in which Chrysler and GM were allowed to go out of business--as seemed highly possible--in Obama's first year. It's highly likely that Faux news and Glenn Beck would have spent the last 18 months charging Obama with treason or incompetence for failing to "save" the American auto companies. Their collapse would have been attributed to his failures and so forth.