Obama's Fairless flub 

I should have looked more closely at the dateline—Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania—on the stories about Barack Obama’s let-them-eat-cake—er, no, let-them-build-a-hybrid-van. That’s where Obama said the following, which the Associated Press included in its first versions of the story on his visit but then scrubbed, as apparently politically embarrassing, from later editions:


“I know some of these big guys, they’re all still driving their big SUVs. You know, they got their big monster trucks and everything. You’re one of them? Well, now, here’s my point. If you’re complaining about the price of gas and you’re only getting eight miles a gallon–(laughter)–you may have a big family, but it’s probably not that big. How many you have? Ten kids, you say? Ten kids? (Laughter.) Well, you definitely need a hybrid van then. “


Hhhhm, Fairless Hills. I knew that Fairless Hills is in Bucks County, northeast of Center City Philadelphia, but I had forgotten that it was the site of the giant Fairless Works steel plant opened by U. S. Steel in 1952. Fairless was the name—a rather unfortunate one, don’t you think?—of U.S. Steel President Benjamin Fairless, and the Fairless Works was a big deal at the time, big enough that the company has a documentary film made about it. “This is a plant that will go on for 50 or perhaps 100 years to come, pouring steel into the ribs of our nation, and wealth into its economic veins," the narrator in the documentary intoned; actually it continued in full force for no more than 30. Most of its operations were closed down between 1982 and 1991 and since 2001 it has employed only 100 people—down from 7,000 at its peak. At the dedication of the plant Fairless explained that blast furnaces were named after women, his wife and granddaughter, because they were inclined to be temperamental—try and get away with that one today! Today the Fairless Works is the site of Gamesa Technology’s wind turbine factory that employs 300 people; Obama staffers obviously picked it out as a green energy work site.  


All this did not escape the folks at The Truth About Cars (hat tip: Instapundit, posting at 7:29am!), who also noted that the chap with ten kids is not likely to take Obama’s advice, because no one produces a hybrid van. I am reminded about the stories about how George H. W. Bush was astonished by the bar code reader at a supermarket checkout counter—he actually wasn’t astonished, but the press wrote it up that way—which was taken as a sign that he was out of contact with the way ordinary people live. The difference is that Bush’s administration wasn’t running supermarket or bar code reader companies. Obama’s administration is running two big car companies—Obama demanded General Motors executives keep their offices in Detroit’s Renaissance Center rather than relocate in the GM Tech Center in suburban Warren—and so he has some reason to know what kind of vehicles are on offer.  

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