He’s back…and he’s pissed.
There’s one thing you can say about the legendary Lido, Lee A. Iaccoca: he’s not a man to hold his tongue – or wagging finger. And in a new book, he’s taking aim at an assortment of boobs and fools, ranging from the “gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff” to the “corporate gangsters stealing us blind.”
Among Iacocca’s biggest concerns is the likelihood that DaimlerChrysler AG will sell off its ailing U.S. arm. The result would likely be a “shattered remnant of the…company it once was,” warns the 82-year-old former executive, in Where Have All the Leaders Gone, clips of which have been surfacing in the Detroit Free Press.
Instead, insists Iacocca, the German-run parent company should be investing heavily to turn Chrysler around. His concerns are not surprising, considering Iacocca is the man often credited with saving Chrysler twice, the first time in 1981, convincing a skeptical Congress and White House to authorize federal loan guarantees. Indeed, Iacocca became so completely intertwined with the automaker that wags within the company liked to suggest that his name was really an acronym for: “I Am Chairman of Chrysler Corporation Always.”
Iacocca left the automaker only reluctantly. Forced by the board to name a successor, he opted for Bob Eaton, a long-time General Motors executive, rather than Chrysler’s then-number-two, Bob Lutz. But Iacocca quickly had a falling out with Eaton, and in an unexpected move, the former chairman allied himself with billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian, in an unsuccessful, hostile takeover bid. Rebounding from that attack, Eaton carved out the “merger-of-equals” that created DaimlerChrysler.
"I'll always believe that if I hadn't chosen Bob Eaton to succeed me as chief executive at Chrysler,” laments Iacocca, in the book, “it would still be a strong, profitable, American car company.”
But Iacocca’s wrath and rage isn’t limited to the business world. He says he’s especially upset with the direction Washington is taking the nation. “I hardly recognize this country anymore,” he blurts out.
Clearly, at 82, Iacocca still believes he knows the better way to run things.A Chilly Reception for Kerkorian Bid?