Tough to write this column through the tears I'm shedding for Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who's all het up over Chrysler Corp.'s bankruptcy-inspired decision to shutter 789 dealerships by June 9.
Hutchison says it's all happening too fast, and with too little help offered for the dealers' unsold inventory and parts. She wants Congress to block federal aid for Chrysler and GM if they don't give the dealers at least 60 days notice before closing. By late last week, 35 other senators had joined her crusade.
But as I'm blubbering into my hanky here, I'm trying to think back to Hutchison's outrage over the other pain caused by auto industry restructuring. Hard to remember it. Maybe that's because there was none.
Like when GM announced it would shut down most of its plants for 90 days this summer to save money. Hutchison said nothing about helping the workers -- thousands in Michigan -- who'll go broke over that span.
Or when GM said in April that it would cut 23,000 jobs and close 47 plants by 2011. Hutchison, again, was silent.
Indeed, Hutchison opposed auto bailout legislation last December, arguing that it subsidized the industry's "failed business model." She complained mightily about high wages and other labor costs.
So why the sudden empathy for the little guy? Could have something to do with the heavy political giving exercised by car dealers and their lobbyists -- half the auto-related booty for folks in Washington in 2007-08. Or maybe she really has gotten religion and is now all about softening the blow from all the industry changes.
What does Detroit know, anyway? That is the same city that has double digit unemployment and caused this mess to begin with. I don't think they are in a position to be lecturing one of our senators from Texas.