It’s always nice to have one’s beliefs confirmed. I was traveling this week, and wasn’t able to follow current events closely, but as the bad news around Toyota continued to mount, I figured that someone at NRO would be flacking for the Japanese and suggesting that it was all part of a government plot to help GM. Sure enough, when I came home, I discovered that John Miller was suggesting that the federal government, with its ownership stake in GM, wants Toyota to “drop dead,” citing as evidence Secretary of Transportation LaHood’s comment that “if anybody owns any of those vehicles, stop driving it, and take it to a Toyota dealer.” I should have figured the Japanese apologist would be Miller, who started acting as a cheerleader for the Japanese several years ago, a fact I noted here. This is also perfectly consistent with Miller’s character, which first revealed itself when he said one of his goals was to drive Sam Francis out of polite society.
Miller, you see, though now a comfortable denizen of the Beltway, hails from the Detroit area, and those who flack for the Japanese in Detroit are made of the same stuff as was Benedict Arnold, since they know how badly hurt Detroit has been by the rise of the Japanese auto industry and how devastated Detroit would be if the American auto industry ever collapsed. As even the Wall Street Journal has noted, for every job the Japanese auto industry has created here, the American auto industry has lost a little over six jobs, 2.8 of them in Michigan. But even the traitors of the founding generation were better than their spiritual descendants today. Miller regularly writes at NRO about his undying loyalty to whatever Detroit sports team happens to be doing well at the moment, affecting a sham loyalty to Detroit; Arnold, in his exile in England, at least had the decency not to fill the English newspapers with declarations of his undying love for New England village greens or the like.
As for the substance, I see nothing wrong with American government officials trying to assist American companies in beating their foreign competition. Most of the nations that compete with us think that way, and Americans used to think that way, too. But such thinking has virtually disappeared in Washington since the Reagan administration, and Transportation Secretary LaHood was soon apologizing and burbling about what a “good corporate citizen” Toyota is. As well he might: If recent history is any guide, LaHood stands a good chance of continuing to make money in Washington after he leaves the Transportation Department by lobbying on behalf of foreign interests, as so many other departing government officials have done in the past few decades.