Apology For Toyota?

In what is little surprise to anyone who is not a tort lawyer or megalomaniac Senator, government researchers determined that runaway Toyotas were caused by driver errors. While Toyota was quick to say that the matter is not yet settled, Shout Bits is now prepared to state that when an accelerator is pushed to the floor and the brakes are not applied at all, an accident may ensue. That’s right, when the US Government did an independent study of crashed Toyotas, they found that in every instance the gas pedal was to the floor and brake was unapplied. Naturally, all the Senators and trial lawyers who lined up to bash Toyota have apologized and admitted that Toyota actually sells high quality US made cars. Not yet, anyway.

From hearings on satanic rock music to steroids in baseball, Senators have never shied away from sensationalizing irrelevancies to distract from their many failings. The Senate does not have hearings on their own graft, pork, or special interest handouts. No, the Senate has hearings on whether teenagers should attempt to break aviation records, or whether cigarettes are unhealthy, or why Toyota is to blame for auto accidents.

Nobody can blame Congress for wanting to deflect attention from its massive, nation destroying failures, and its red herrings are usually harmless. After all, harping on lead paint on toys only ruined a handful of small business owners’ lives. In the case of Toyota, however, tens of thousands of jobs are at stake. Toyota has invested billions of dollars in US manufacturing along with decades of innovation that have driven up the quality of all cars worldwide. Congress’s whipping boy was a model of capitalism, prosperity, and the power of a free market to make everyone’s life better. Better still, Toyota never took bailouts from Washington (only union shops qualified for such aid).

Toyota played the game well, unlike BP, by prostrating itself before the uninformed bombastic jackasses who have never done anything to make cars safer. Mr. Inaba, Toyota CEO, nearly wept tears of blood as he admitted failings that his engineers most certainly told him were false. Inaba surely recalled the bogus acceleration charges levied against Audi ten years ago. Rather than defend his product, Inaba knew he had to submit to Orwellian prosecution in order to put the sensation behind him. Never mind that sudden acceleration complaints are only filed when the news is hyping them, not regularly as a real problem would suggest. Never mind that a cash strapped California driver clearly faked his high speed Toyota incident a few months earlier. Never mind that the accelerator systems allegedly at fault were used by many auto manufacturers. Never mind that Congress runs GM, Toyota’s main competitor. In fact Inaba deserves a prize for his containment and focus on preserving Toyota, rather than the objective truth that nearly all accidents are caused by driver error.

Now that the government study has fully exonerated Toyota, where are the apologies? Perhaps Rep. Barton can give it another go. Toyota has wisely remained cautious, likely fearful that claiming victory would incite a backlash. Of course it is no surprise that the old time media’s interest in restoring Toyota’s reputation is tepid. Car crashes caused by driver error are dog-bites-man boredom right down the middle. Likewise for the Senators that preened as Inaba kowtowed. Building up industry, supporting capitalism, or acknowledging that most companies want to do right by their customers is not the Washington way. So, as usual, the prattling classes take more interest in salacious falsehoods than they do in humdrum truth. Toyota: there is nowhere to go to get your reputation back, but thanks for playing the Washington game so well.

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