So Ed Whitacre, appointed to GM's board by the Obama administration to make sure it had a familiar face watching its bailout money, has announced that he will be staying in the position. This follows Fritz Henderson's getting the boot from the top spot, which he occupied after Rick Wagner was similarly tossed out when the money was tossed in.
Whitacre says it was the board's decision to keep him on, but color me slightly cynical on that; I suspect Whitacre may have made the decision himself. Once Fritz was turfed -- and right on the eve of the LA Auto Show, where he was supposed to give the keynote speech -- GM said it put Whitacre in the position for the interim, while it looked for a new leader. Said leader was also expected to come from outside the auto industry -- no doubt in an effort to find another Alan Mulally, who came to Ford from Boeing and, to my surprise, seems to have been a far better man for the job than anyone expected.
I was dead wrong about Mulally. I figured you needed a car guy to run a car company. The genius Mulally brought to the job wasn't that he understood cars, but that he understood manufacturing.
Whitacre comes from AT&T. Perhaps understanding communication is part of it, as well. But it still doesn't sit right with me that in his press conference announcing that his bags were truly unpacked, Whitacre said that he spent "the past few months learning the business."
A few months. To learn how to run the largest car company in the world.
I sure hope my gut feeling is wrong.