Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

John McCain’s claims of always buying American don’t hold up

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Originally published on on Tue, 09/23/2008 – 8:50am

This isn’t about how many cars John McCain owns — he owns 13 cars — but what kind of cars does he own. Or more specifically, are they “American cars”?

Of the 13 cars, 9 of them are considered American. The other four are a Toyota Prius (that he bragged about having), a Lexus, a 2005 Volkswagen convertible, and a 2001 Honda sedan.

It’s certainly not a sin for an American to own a foreign company automobile, whether it was made in the United States or not. And it’s not a sin for a presidential candidate to do so as well.

But that presidential candidate, let’s identify him by his initials JSM, said recently in an interview with WXYZ-TV in Detroit: “I’ve bought American literally all my life, and I’m proud.” And that candidate, okay it’s John McCain, should have known that claiming to buy American when you don’t isn’t a good thing, especially if you want to win Michigan.

There is a hostility unlike any other in U.S. manufacturing to foreign-company cars in Detroit and Michigan. As someone who grew up in Michigan, I can vouch for that.

To the people of Michigan, an American car is made in America by an American company. Chrysler still counts, even though Germans own the company. Ford has been a corporate investor in Mazda since 1979, but that doesn’t count. And if you try to argue that your Toyota was built in Kentucky, which is extremely plausible, that argument doesn’t mean a whole lot.

United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger put it well:

“People are free to buy any kind of car they want — that isn’t the issue here. What is the issue is that the American auto industry, and American voters, deserve a president who will be straight with them. If we can’t trust John McCain on something as simple as what kind of cars he owns, how can we trust him when he talks about investing in American jobs. ‘Buy American’ can’t just be a slogan that John McCain rolls out when he is in Michigan. It’s insulting to our members. We need a president who’s committed to rebuilding the auto industry here America, not a President who buys foreign cars and then lies about when he thinks autoworkers are watching.”

The U.S. car industry hasn’t done a whole lot to inspire confidence in the car buying public. If GM had stuck with the electric car, its fortunes could have turned out a lot quicker. The next president has to work with the Big 3 not to coddle them but to force them to produce in a competitive situation, raising CAFE standards for gas mileage. The one thing I do know that Michigan auto workers and Michigan residents want is someone who will be straight with them, but McCain is clearly not aware of this.


Written by democracysoup

September 23, 2008 at 8:50 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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