I can feel the pain of my home state of Michigan (and no, I’m not referring to the bitter cold temperatures we’re experiencing here along the Front Range).
The angst coming from the Motor City and its environs is palpable. One of the most poignant examples, at least from my perspective, relates to a scheduled weekend appearance by Kentucky’s U.S. Senator (and former Detroit Tigers pitcher) Jim Bunning. Detroit Free Press columnist Brian Dickerson ripped Bunning a new one after the Republican Senator voted against the UAW’s federal government bailout deal.
He may be losing his marbles, but U.S. senator and ex-Tiger pitching great Jim Bunning still has big brass cojones.
After all, most of the GOP senators conspiring to kill a House rescue package for Detroit’s auto companies wouldn’t have the guts to set foot in Michigan this week, much less hawk their autographs to beleaguered Michiganders at $55 a pop.
But Hall of Famer Bunning — a vocal opponent of the auto loans — will do both of those things Sunday when he journeys to the deepest heart of UAW country.
He’ll sign baseballs ($35), posters ($45) and jerseys or gloves ($55) from noon to 2 p.m. at the Gibraltar Trade Center in Taylor, then head over to Solidarity House to knock back a few cold ones with UAW President Ron Gettelfinger.
I’m kidding about the Gettelfinger part, of course; Bunning more likely will be wheels-up before the sun sets on Metro Airport. I just hope he has the good sense to make the round-trip to Taylor in a Detroit-manufactured vehicle — even if it does cheese off Toyota, whose largest American plant is in Bunning’s home state of Kentucky.
Meanwhile, the rhetoric from Michigan has been ratcheted up. Apparently off the lofty clouds of Tuesdays with Morrie, Free Press columnist Mitch Albom scoffs at Republican Senators: “Kill the car, kill the country”. (I’m guessing Mitch McConnell and other Republican Senators who voted against the UAW bailout don’t qualify for this list, either.)
And it’s seeped up into high office, too, as the economically inept Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm has called the failure to pass the UAW’s bailout demands as “un-American”. Visions of McCarthy-like hearings in a Lansing committee room came dancing through my head. But hearings like these are much more of a Canadian thing, the land of Granholm’s birth.
Very few, if any, Michigan writers seem willing even to raise the possibility that the UAW might be slightly responsible for the trouble at hand, or even to express an interest in why taxpayers may be sick at the thought of bailing out more failed companies. On the other hand, who can blame the likes of Dickerson, Albom, and Gov. Granholm, when it hits so painfully close to home? For one thing, the passage of the initial financial bailout packages provide a powerful contrast and provoke cries of hypocrisy.
Which Republicans (and Democrats, if there are any) have had the temerity to vote against any and all sweeping government takeovers? They are the ones to be admired.
But the Detroit Free Press might be happy to applaud Colorado’s own Ken Salazar for his bailout vote — the rest of us will wish him well running the Interior Department, where (if he indeed gets the job) he won’t be able to vote for any more bailouts.