Ford supported the industry rescue, too

Apparently, a Ford commercial is causing a bit of a stir in political circles today.

This Ford ad’s been out for a while, but Paul Bedard blogs about it anew and gets some Drudge attention. In the ad, a Real Live Customer says he bought a Ford because “I wasn’t going to buy another car that was bailed out by our government. I was going to buy from a manufacturer that’s standing on their own: win, lose, or draw. That’s what America is about is taking the chance to succeed and understanding when you fail that you gotta’ pick yourself up and go back to work.”

The ad’s actually completely unsurprising…. [S]tarting in 2010, Ford has been trading on the no-bailouts stuff.

That’s fine. When it comes to enhancing one’s brand, a company’s gotta do what a company’s gotta do. If “we didn’t get bailed out” works for Ford, then it’s going to be part of the auto manufacturer’s marketing strategy.

But let’s not leave some of the relevant details out of the discussion. Even if we ignore the various tax incentives from the Obama administration that Ford made good use of, it’s worth remembering that in 2009, Ford was an enthusiastic supporter of the Obama administration’s industry-rescue policy.

It’s true that Ford wasn’t directly part of the rescue, but the company’s executives have said many times the “bailout” was vital to the success of the American automotive industry.

About a year ago, for example, Ford CEO Alan Mullaly explained, “The government’s intervention was absolutely key to helping create a chance for GM and Chrysler going forward. That’s why I testified on behalf of GM and Chrysler, as you know. The reason we did was that we believed — like two presidents [Bush and Obama] — that if GM and Chrysler would have gone into freefall bankruptcy, they would have taken the supply base down and taken the industry down plus maybe turned the U.S. recession into a depression.”

This isn’t complicated. Ford didn’t get federal funds, but the company, like its American rivals, was struggling badly when the economy crashed. If GM and Chrysler had collapsed, there’s little doubt that Ford wouldn’t have had the suppliers it needed to survive. Ford’s executives have already acknowledged this; it’s not exactly a contentious point.

Something to keep in mind the next time the right touts Ford’s latest anti-bailout commercial.