Washington Hearings Feature Pontification, Contrition, Education

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you no doubt have been following closely this week’s hearings in D.C. And, how many times have you been asked in recent days: “What do you think?”

A few observations on this end:

All three CEOs and UAW president Gettelfinger came prepared this time. Their testimony has effectively underscored the dire situation faced while demonstrating a commitment to change, contrition, oversight and cooperation.

While I feel the much-ballyhooed private jet “P.R. gaffe” was really much ado about nothing (anyone who has worked with a major corporation knows that mode of travel is not about a propensity for opulence but rather time efficiencies and security), the move, this time, to carpooling in energy efficient vehicles at least sent the right message—in particular, responsibility.

And, though it was not hard to think “private agenda” when particular Congressional leaders spoke (the most public proponents/skeptics being Bob Corker of Tennessee and Richard Shelby Alabama whose states feature manufacturing facilities from Nissan, Toyota, Honda (and soon Volkswagen) respectively), there seemed to be a good balance of information overall. I was particularly impressed with Bob Casey of Pennsylvania (whose state went through similar trying times in the 70s with the fall of the steel industry) who laid to rest some myths about autoworker salaries.

If nothing else, this painful, high profile exercise has the nation talking, asking questions and being educated. This dialogue and communication will hopefully lead to change and healing for an industry that really and truly affects more people in this country than many of us ever realized.