Today, Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post has joined others who have criticized the disparate treatment. The fact that Robinson has criticized President Obama is far more important than the substance of his criticism, because Robinson has been one of the most loyal supporters of Obama among journalists at major media outlets. As Robinson observes, the automobile industry certainly requires a tough love approach, but so does the banking industry.
The Editors of the Detroit News have also come out swinging against the disparity. The newspaper argues that the ouster of General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner was a political ploy designed to make the President appear tough on bailouts, given the public's anger over Wall Street. According to the Detroit News, the automobile industry is simply the scapegoat in a political game:
Obama has been banged around the last couple of weeks because of the bonus scandal at AIG. His administration, with the help of Congress, botched the aid package to the failed insurance giant, allowing the indefensible bonuses to be paid and triggering public outrage that is increasingly focused on the White House.The White House's approach to Detroit, as opposed to the financial industry, applies a clear double-standard. The existence of a double-standard, however, does not mean that automobile manufacturers deserve leniency. Instead, both industries should face restructuring and greater controls.
Dumping Wagoner lets Obama deflect attention away from Wall Street, where his Treasury Department is still moving through quicksand, and turn it on Detroit.
He can portray himself as being tough on the corporate executives who are ruining America, without having to draw blood from the bankers.
The banking industry in fact deserves more scrutiny because its reckless behavior was the leading cause of the global financial crisis, and it has received far more federal assistance than any other business sector. Other than the relative political and economic power of Wall Street, it is difficult to understand why the government continues to coddle the banks and pay off their investors, while providing very little direct assistance to consumers and other commercial sectors.