Senator Corker Goes To Detroit

January 14, 2009

One of the US Senate's most vocal critics of the American auto industry has paid a visit to the Detroit auto show. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) arrived yesterday and stopped to chat with each of the Big Three. So far, it appears he's the only non-Michigan politician to make the trek.

Corker's visit is a little surprising. You may recall that a couple of months back, when the Big Three paid a visit to Washington, D.C., the meetings they had with members of congress were not exactly pleasant. Corker was particularly critical of the companies' lack of innovation and of the contracts each held with the UAW. To his credit, Corker put forward a loan deal for the automakers, but the labor concessions he included made the proposition a no-go.

No matter what you think of the Big Three, the UAW, or Corker himself, you gotta give the man props for wandering into the lion's den--even if it's just a stunt. And his willingness to speak his mind is also pretty laudable: he still has problems with the UAW (get in line, bub), and he thinks Chrysler ought to pursue a merger. So at least he's engaged, right?

And just in case you're wondering: no, he didn't drive a hybrid to Detroit. He flew Northwest--coach class.

--Richard Read

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