Retail Front

NADA Convention Keynote Speaker Pick Raises Ire


Selecting Hillary Rodham Clinton as a keynote speaker indicates a great trade group is misguided.

I’m paralyzed with disbelief that the National Automobile Dealers Assn. has scheduled Hillary Rodham Clinton as the keynote speaker at its annual convention in January.

Let me make it crystal clear: This is not an attack, but rather a criticism of an organization I love but I feel has lost its way on many levels.

Before some dealer readers knee-jerk in response to what I say, consider this: The NADA is your national organization. It is your first line of defense against legislative and special-interest threats to the franchised dealer system. We need to support and strengthen NADA, and if necessary, reinvent it.

This is not about Hillary Rodham Clinton, her philosophy, politics or qualifications. We all have an opinion of her. On my Facebook page, I posted my opposition to her speaking at the convention. That triggered nearly 200 posts in less than an hour. Liberals and conservatives, many of them dealer principals, began arguing.

I stayed out of it and did not influence the conversation. It was ugly. In coming months I think this ugliness will spread.

My original thesis only questions whether she is a wise speaker choice. Without a doubt, she is controversial. She is a prospective Democratic candidate for president in 2016. It is not a positive to put her in front of an overwhelmingly conservative dealer audience.

NADA has made an illogical choice. They should have opted for someone more relevant to our industry, maybe Justin Bieber.

A larger issue is whether NADA is out of touch with its membership. With its administrative staff residing in the Washington Beltway, maybe they live in a culture that believes Hillary will be a wonderful speaker. But she does not play well in Dallas or among Heartland dealers I know.

Last year, I announced I would no longer speak or present at NADA convention workshops. I have presented almost every year since 1987 with great content and reviews.

My reason for discontinuing is I am not totally happy with the way the organization is handling the convention presentations. The perception is that industry vendors control who presents to the 20 groups. NADA executives cornered me at the last NADA convention and asked me to reconsider my decision to bow out.

Since the dealer disenfranchisement battles of 2009, NADA has faced more and more divided dealer loyalties. That issue was a no-win situation for the organization. They lost the hearts, minds and enthusiasm of many dealers. But in these tough times, we need a strong NADA more than ever.

The keynote speaker selection is more of a symptom than a disease. I’m a cheerleader for NADA President Peter Welch. NADA Chairman Dave Westcott has been a great friend for years. There is no ax to grind here. I would be glad to help NADA in any way I can to regain the former glory and unanimous dealer enthusiasm I first saw when I spoke at the 1987 convention.  

But it would be wrong to refuse to notice the emperor has no clothes.

Well, another column draws to a close. No cognac toast this time. I am scheduled for knee-replacement surgery in August. I am in incredible pain. The surgeon and I are dealing with it.

I have had four surgeries including replacing my right knee twice. It’s all due to a weight lifting accident 40 years ago when I fell with nearly 700 lbs. (316 kg) on my shoulders. Through the years, it’s gotten worse. The surgery should put me back in fighting shape by October.

Keep those emails, text messages and phone calls coming. Find me on Facebook visit my websites. I love hearing from you.

Jim Ziegler is president of Ziegler Supersystems as well as a trainer, commentator and public speaker on dealership issues. He can be reached at WardsAuto readers also may comment on this article by logging in or registering below.

Discuss this Blog Entry 6

on Jul 22, 2013

Jim, Car dealers DO tend to be "conservative" until it comes time to perform a much needed "bailout" of the automotive industry. As a life long Republican, and a Chrysler dealer during the Reagan Administration, I took a more Democrat stance when it became apparent Chrysler would slide into insolvency without government help. This time around, the RW dug in against the industry bailout, EXCEPT auto dealers who were united in supporting the rather complicated rescue, even though many, myself included, disagreed with all of the details of how it was done.

NADA had Bush 43 speak in LV a couple of years ago. I had long since lost confidence in him. However, I was incensed when many left the auditorium after his prepared remarks, before NADA President Stephen Wade began a spontaneous Q&A. I thought it showed a lack of respect for the office of POTUS for people to get up in leave.

Hillary Clinton has served her country well as an admirable Secretary of State. NADA is right to bring in folks from both sides of the conversation.
But I DO agree with you that it is NOT appropriate to bring in a potential presidential candidate. Maybe NADA knows something we don't know.... that Hillary isn't going to run in 2014?

Despite my lifelong affiliation with the Republican Party over the years, (I was a teenager for Goldwater), the current strain of the Republican Party isn't anything I recognize. I expect there are many other Republicans out there that feel the same way I do. I'm fine with Hillary speaking, unless she changes her mind and runs in 2014.

on Jul 22, 2013

When the markets are allowed to do what they do, everything is fine. When it became obvious the marxist was going to get elected, THAT is when the smart money bailed out of the market and it crashed. Anyone with any concept of what was coming knew not to spend a dollar unless absolutely necessary. That is what brought about the bankruptcies. Government and some of the huge corportations and banks have created created ALL of our problems. Then we elect someone a little more marxist and a little more corrupt than the Clintons. Folks, if we don't get this government cleaned up, and it is corrupt beyond your imagination, we are done as a free America and the greatest country a human being could be so lucky to call home. This is NOT exaggeration! We have allowed EXACTLY what our founding fathers warned us about.
I am sickened to my stomach that so many of the business leaders around this country have not taken the time to research the people that are determined to destroy America. Would I walk across the street to hear Hillary Rodham Clinton speak?
Am I shocked that NADA would put us in this position where if we really tell them what we think and they cancel HR Clinton, we would feel her wrath should she ever be so ignorantly elected?
YES. It makes my gut hurt just like it did when Obama was first elected.
Here's is some factual critical reading and historical video:

Here's some good info, ESPECIALLY the Cloward-Pivens Strategy article!
This article was written in 2008. It was one that really opened my eyes.

Manufactured Crisis and the Cloward Pivens Strategy:

In 1958 Robert Welch predicting plans to destroy America:

Wow, how did he know the future? His first speech is back in 1958:

U.N. Agenda 21

George Soros in his own words.

Back during Presidential campaign year 2004, my associates and I were calling attention to an important book on the subject of "The Confessions of an Economic Hit-Man." That man had a conscience. In the following report, LPAC is featuring a much bigger story, on the subject of George Soros as a political-economic hit-man. The George Soros we present in this report, has no conscience about what he has done, or what he does. This a report written, in large part, by Soros' own mouth.

George Soros is not a top-ranking financier, he is like the mafia thug, without a real conscience, like a thug sent to kill a friend of yours, by only a hit-man for the really big financial interests, hired out to rob your friends, and you, of about everything, including their nation, and your personal freedom.

George Soros does not actually own Senator Barack Obama; some other people do; but, Soros is a key controller, and seemingly the virtual owner of both Democratic Party Chairman Howard "Scream" Dean, that Party, perhaps your political party, and, in fact, your nation, which are both what political-economic hit-man George Soros is aiming to destroy.
-- Lyndon H

on Jul 23, 2013

If you have read the above, you may be interested in this confession by one of America's #1 enemies that has been serving in our Senate for WAY too long. Yes, they keep reelecting him or they have mastered cheating at the polls.

on Jul 23, 2013

Of course, what a coincidence that your name is the same name as Jackie Gleason who also played Ralph Cramden in the Honeymooners back in the 50's.

This article lit up my Facebook pages and email as soon as it hit. I am a little overwhelmed by how quick the responses are coming. I wanted to attack and question the decision and the wisdom of it. By no means do I want to come off as attacking NADA... although they need to find True North again. I wasn't even attacking Hillary Clinton but rather her polarizing effect on dealers who are overwhelmingly conservative. With the Benghazi massacre and her role in it still not fully investigated, I think its a poor time to put her in front of an already divided house.

on Jul 23, 2013

The market had crashed before the "Marxist" was elected. The run on the money market system occurred before then, as well.

Name calling contributes to the problem. But to use your terms, it seems one Marxist replaced another as Bush 43 pushed for a signed both TARP and the auto industry rescue and the new "Marxist" pretty much continued the first Marxist's agenda. The new one certainly continued the first one's agenda with the UAW as it was Bush 43 that made parity with the "transplants" a condition of any rescue.

Just curious, when did we last have a non Marxist President?

on Jul 23, 2013

In terms of relativity, it may be serious mistakes were made in the Benghazi affair. Whatever those mistakes may have been they pale compared to the mistake of invading Iraq over WMDs, however. And NADA did have Bush 43 speak at NADA a couple of years ago. He took good advantage to pitch his new book, "Decision Points."

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What's Retail Front?

Blogs about automotive retailing, commenting on news impacting the business of selling vehicles.


Steve Finlay

Steve Finlay is the editor of WardsAuto Dealer Business magazine and a senior editor for His journalism career started 42 years ago as a crime reporter. A Michigan native, he likes...

Jim Ziegler

Jim Ziegler, president of Ziegler Supersystems, is a trainer, commentator and public speaker on dealership issues.
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