Obama vs. the car culture

Daniel Henninger:

How long before the midnight drag races return on dark and dusty roads?

When Barack Obama announced that the government will use its fist to wave onto the highways of America cars that get 39 miles to a gallon of liquefied switch grass or something, he said, "Everybody wins."

Everybody? What country has he been living in? This marks the end of the internal combustion engine as we knew it, and it is the way Americans have defined, designed and literally driven much of the nation's culture for as long as anyone can remember. Car culture is America's culture.

Mr. Obama is fond of giving people iPods as gifts. I've got a playlist for Mr. Obama's iPod.

Track 1: "Shut Down" by the Beach Boys. Clip: "Superstock Dodge is windin' out in low/But my fuel-injected Stingray's really startin' to go. To get the traction I'm ridin' the clutch/My pressure plate's burnin', this machine's too much."

Track 2: "Little Deuce Coupe" by the Beach Boys. Clip: "She's got a competition clutch with a four on the floor, and she purrs like a kitten til the lake pipes roar."

It's 2016. Imagine a Brian Wilson ever thinking to write: "And she'll have fun, fun, fun til her daddy takes her Prius away."

At Mr. Obama's "Everybody wins" announcement ceremony in the Rose Garden, no one knew better how much has been lost than the cowed auto chiefs arrayed behind him. CAFE, the fuel-mileage standards Congress mandated 34 years ago, gradually squeezed the size and life out of America's cars. But something's getting phased out here other than gas-fueled cars.

Some of the most famous celebrity converts to the politics behind this new, shrinking world of plug-ins once wrote and sang paeans to muscle cars and a more muscular culture.

Track 3: "Born to Run" by Bruce Springsteen. Clip: "Beyond the Palace hemi-powered drones scream down the boulevard."

Time was Bruce Springsteen knew that "Jersey boys" mainly meant steel, chrome, rubber and auto tech. Check out the lyrics to "Pink Cadillac" ("but my love is bigger than a Honda") or the car-crazy "Racing in the Street," invoking Chevys with 396 Fuelie heads, Hurst speed-shifters and Camaros running "from the fire roads to the interstate."


He has several more tracks including Commander Cody and his "Hot Rod Lincoln." I have always like cars and lately I like trucks. But two of the more fun cars I have owned were a Honda CRX Si which was a two seater hot rod, and an Accura Integra SR which was even hotter.

But, as some in Detroit are starting to point out, it was not the product line at the Big Three that was the problem. The recession in auto sales is across the board. Toyota had a bigger loss than GM in the first quarter of the year. Some of that may have come from selling Prius's at a loss which appears to be the business model that Obama is pushing.


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