Person of the year

In this day and age, it’s hard to take Time seriously, especially their hotly hyped Person of the Year announcement, which hasn’t meant anything to me since 2006. This year’s selection, a chap named Barack Obama, is at least reasonable given Time’s avowed criterion: the person who, “for better or for worse … has done the most to influence the events of the year.” I would argue that Mr Obama deserves it more this year than he did in 2008, when he was pretending to be a blank slate.

Ralph GillesI get into this Person of the Year business myself somewhat reluctantly, but I have a criterion of my own to push: the individual who actually performed during the preceding months the act I think is most consonant with my own personal values, without benefiting me personally. [Note: This is decidedly at odds with the Time selection, which one always has to assume is done for the benefit of Time Warner, if not necessarily for its customers.] Based on that criterion, the most deserving individual for 2012, barring something miraculous happening in the next week, is Ralph V. Gilles, president and CEO of SRT Brand and Motorsports, and senior vice president of product design for Chrysler Group LLC.

This selection was perhaps foreshadowed by this piece I wrote in October:

Bloomberg News ran a piece a week ago that indicated Fiat, in its capacity as High Overlord of Chrysler, might be contemplating building Jeeps in China, and a phrase to the effect that they “may eventually make all their models in that country,” hinting at multiple lines, was apparently interpreted as meaning that Jeep was actually moving all its production to China. Which they aren’t, as Chrysler is taking pains to point out.

Which prompted the following exchange on Twitter:

Tweets by Donald Trump and Ralph Gilles

Few things in life are as satisfying on a gut level as telling Donald Trump that he’s full of shit. My congratulations to Mr Gilles, who in addition to this feat oversaw the revival of the Viper, SRT’s V-10 powered halo car, which adds further to his own personal halo.


  1. Joan of Argghh! »

    25 December 2012 · 7:13 am

    Heh. You have better judgment about people than Time does, obviously!

    Merry Christmas!

  2. Tatyana »

    25 December 2012 · 9:16 am

    I don’t doubt that you have better judgement than Time (which in itself is a meager compliment) but telling someone he’s full of shit w/o any attempt of argumentation is not much of an accomplishment, if you asked me. It’s just another side of the same arrogant ghetto attitude as displayed byTime‘s choice of Personoftheyear’ winner.

    And I honestly don’t see where the difference lays between “C. is moving production of cars to China” and “C. is making cars in China and planning to make more lines there”. Either way it leaves US manufacturing hands idle.

  3. CGHill »

    25 December 2012 · 11:03 am

    Except that the Chinese expect an automaker to build in situ, with revenues shared with a Chinese partner. We can’t crank up another assembly line in Toledo just to export to China.

    And there was nothing really to argue: Trump got it wrong, and Gilles called him out on it.

  4. Roger Green »

    25 December 2012 · 2:29 pm

    Trump has been FOS for a while, with the birther stuff and whatnot.
    I remember in 1979, TIME pick the Ayatollah Khomeni, and several outraged folks canceled their subscriptions. He SO fit the criteria that year.

  5. Tatyana »

    25 December 2012 · 8:12 pm

    Bit isn’t it true in both cases? Seriously, I see no difference between two statements at all. I don’t see where Trump got is wrong.

  6. CGHill »

    25 December 2012 · 8:27 pm

    Building Jeeps in China for China is a far cry from building Jeeps in China for the rest of the world. Jeep is arguably Chrysler’s, and by extension Fiat’s, strongest brand name now, and if they can garner residual sales by putting up one extra plant somewhere west of Shanghai, it’s not going to affect their ability to manufacture and deliver vehicles elsewhere in the world. (And in fact, Chrysler added capacity at their Jefferson North plant in Detroit to make more Grand Cherokees for Europe, rather than have Magna Steyr build them in Austria.) More to the point, most auto markets are leery of Chinese-built vehicles anyway. Volvo, the only global brand with Chinese ownership, doesn’t export any cars from China.

  7. Tatyana »

    26 December 2012 · 8:33 am

    Aha, that’s what it is. But this explanation was absent in your quote from Bloomberg news and also in your protegee’s reaction to Trump’s tweet. I don’t know if Trump is as uninformed on the issue as I am, but without clarification that Chrysler is going to build its auto makes in China only for Chinese market, not intending to export them outside of China – Gilles’ remark is just rude, unprovoked and frankly, stupid.

    On a second look…it’s still is. Responsible grownups do not engage in ghetto teenage catfights.

  8. Kim »

    27 December 2012 · 5:18 pm

    Regardless of the errors/non errors in presentation on various parties’ parts, the Chinese can HAVE the Jeep. It’s the biggest piece of garbage EVER. Our 1999 Grand Cherokee, that we bought new, has been the recipient of repairs surpassing its initial price ($37,000) many times over. It is worthless. It is now only semi-worthless with repaired brakes and being driven by our son. It seems to be a better deal even than the old Corolla…

    I would NEVER, EVER buy another Jeep. Do not buy Jeeps.

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