Of all the ham-fisted, meddlesome moments in recent government interventionist history, the ouster of General Motors ( GM) Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner is perhaps the most unceremonious and unabashedly direct imposition of federal will on corporate governance. And it was long overdue. The most outrageous part of all of this is that the government had to do the dirty work for GM's board, which repeatedly backed Wagoner until the very end. The writing was on the wall, considering the performance of the century-old automaker since Wagoner became CEO in 2000 and chairman in 2003. For the Obama administration, change was clearly not coming fast enough. They grew tired of waiting for Wagoner and the GM board to get into gear. So they switched drivers, like a Nascar owner changing up a losing team. It's a nearly impossible task for any executive to be bold enough to undo all he had done, to tear down all he had built and to admit that what might have been right before is wrong now. Inevitably, this requires new blood, a fresh perspective and someone at the helm with no love of the past. But the board members at General Motors couldn't see past their loyalty to one of their own. Wagoner was their chairman, and they stuck behind him even when they should have known his time had passed. Now, finally, a board shakeup is on the horizon, with GM announcing that new directors will make up the majority going forward. It's about freaking time. Good riddance to the entire pack of pathetic sycophants.
But what about the other incompetent executives and boards out there, in particular those running the banks and other financial services companies that helped to bring GM down by crippling the credit markets? Why target only General Motors? What about Citigroup ( C), Bank of America ( BAC), Goldman Sachs ( GS), Morgan Stanley ( MS) and AIG ( AIG)? Is there reason for confidence in the boards and executives who run General Electric ( GE), Verizon ( VZ), Coca-Cola ( ko) or any of the other companies that rank at the bottom of the list of 100 Best Corporate Citizens of 2008 compiled by CRO? If any good comes out of the government's attack on General Motors' corporate independence, I hope that it is an emboldening of shareholders to demand accountability from company executives and board members. This shouldn't be the work of the government. Are you outraged about something? Let me know by clicking here to send an email to the editor.