Bob Nardelli Does Not Inspire Confidence

Last Updated Nov 19, 2008 11:52 AM EST

Switch on the television set today and there is Robert Nardelli, chief executive of Chrysler, begging Congress for a federal bailout.

The question is: why is this guy always around when there's a disaster?

Consider that Nardelli gained a reputation while at General Electric for being autocratic and tough-edged. He was one of several stars being groomed to replace the legendary Jack Welch, but it didn't happen.

In 2000, Nardelli moved over to Home Depot where he served as president, CEO and chairman of the board. That, likewise, was a rough chapter with Home Depot's stock declining. Not exactly Mr. Transparency, Nardelli staged such antics as holding an annual meeting without having any directors present. And, he kept the proceedings to less than an hour. When he was finally bounced out, he did so with a golden parachute worth a stunning $210 million. Some found that outrageous since Nardelli's performance at Home Depot was not star quality.

Nardelli then moved over to hapless Chrysler which was finally cut loose from its disastrous assocation with Daimler-Benz. Granted that Nardelli has only been at Chrysler for 15 months so he can't be blamed for the automaker's deep problems. He has, however, shed 28,000 workers, leaving 60,000 employees

Nardelli is pushing for a $25 billion bailout to operating expenses from the U.S. government. Chrysler's share would be $7 billion. This would be on top of the $25 billion Congress has already approved to help the Big Three make more fuel efficient cars.

Don't get me wrong. I don't hate Chrysler and own its products. I like my Sebring and deeply love my Jeep. Yet the image of someone with a checkered past like Nardelli sitting with the other two top Detroit dogs is somehow disconcerting. A lot of people say we need to restore confidence to get through this economic crisis. But with people like Nardelli?