William Clay Ford Jr.

Taking stock of people and ideas in the news.
April 14 2005 7:45 AM

William Clay Ford Jr.

Not your great-grandfather's Ford.

(Continued from Page 1)

To be sure, this is a very difficult time, perhaps an impossible one, to be the chief executive of an American auto business. The factors that are making it difficult to turn a profit—expensive steel and oil, a weak dollar, rising health-care costs, aggressive foreign companies—are likely to be with us for awhile. And the government certainly isn't in any mood to help. But Bill Ford no longer appears to be what the Ford family and the company's 324,000 employees needs. His job isn't in jeopardy, since his family still controls the company. Ford Motor Co. might be best served, however, by a sharp break from the past. It needs someone to bust things up, to make difficult choices about its many brands, about its relationship with labor, about the basic nature of its business. In short, it needs an executive who more closely resembles relentless Henry than sensitive Bill.

Daniel Gross is a longtime Slate contributor. His most recent book is Better, Stronger, Faster . Follow him on Twitter.