TCS Daily

Cherokee Nation

By Brock Yates - February 27, 2003 12:00 AM

You've got to wonder about the impact of the elites who run our liberal media on we the great unwashed. Day in and day out the doyens of the New York Times, the Washington Post, Newsweek, Time, the three major networks, CNN, et. al., scold us on a myriad of subjects; all of which we tend to ignore.

They quiver at the thought of boxing Saddam's ears and rage about the food we eat, the movies and television we watch, the bicycles and mass transit we don't ride and the proper, politically correct, gas-sipping automobiles we refuse to drive.

The level at which we, the vox populi, ignore their prim admonitions must infuriate them, especially on issues like Sport Utility Vehicles, about which their stridency has been elevated to outright hysteria.

Take for example the occasionally rational Gregg Easterbrook's review in the January 20th issue of "The New Republic" of Keith Bradsher's anti-SUV polemic, "High and Mighty: SUV's - the World's Most Dangerous Vehicles and How They Got That Way." Poor Easterbrook escalated hyperbolic palpitations to new heights when he described vehicles like my Jeep Grand Cherokee as "Godzilla instruments of death" and "Paranoiac contraptions."

This was published only two weeks before the entire east coast, no doubt including Mr. Easterbrook's abode, was blanketed with a blizzard that transformed Washington into a reasonable facsimile of Spitzbergen. It was during this crisis that hospitals in the District of Columbia and nearby Baltimore issued calls for these "Godzilla's of Death" to poke through the snow-banks to aid in the transportation of the sick and the infirm.

Yes, it was left to these vile, fuel-swilling, roll-over-prone, parking-lot-plugging, Insight-crushing, road-raging four-wheeled predators to do what they were designed to do - navigate in foul conditions where ordinary sedans cannot go.

Like the media guru's (and, God help us, the simpletons in Hollywood) incantations against Cheeseburgers, Hussein ass-kicking and Rush Limbaugh, their harangues targeted at SUV's have fallen on deaf ears.

Despite the Firestone-Ford debacle, endless editorials, "20/20" style exposes and hilarious denouncements by the witless Arianna Huffington, Bradshaw and Easterbrook, there is little or no indication that the nation's love affair with SUV's is flagging in the slightest.

Consider that last year, when the economy was tepid at best and gasoline prices were steadily rising, SUV sales jumped by nine percent. A total of 333,938 more of these vehicles were sold in 2002 than the previous year. That, by the way, happened when sales of light trucks and vans slipped by over four percent.

The SUV segment of the market continues to grow both in volume and in the number of new models. But why?

Perhaps an answer lies in a survey completed last fall by R. L. Polk & Son, a venerable polling and statistic-gathering firm concentrating on the automobile industry. Polk found that 27% of those surveyed claimed they embraced SUV's because they served their "active lifestyles." And 24 percent said the felt "very safe" in their vehicles while 80 percent claimed they drove in "adverse weather conditions" with 17 percent reporting they were regularly exposed to stormy weather driving.

The Polk survey indicated that over 50 percent of SUV consumers plan to stay in the vehicle category upon re-purchase. This is opposed to overall customer loyalty to any given vehicle type being 41 percent.

Said Lonnie Miller, Director of Polk's Analytical Solutions Team about the trend: "Manufacturers have successfully positioned SUV's as a full service offering to consumers who want the ability to get some of the basic tasks done in their lives. Now its appeal is expanding to a wider demographic, especially as more entries into the small and full-size luxury SUV segment are introduced."

If this news doesn't put poor ol' Keith Bradsher and the entire editorial board of the New York Times on the ledge, nothing will.

In the meantime I'm firing up my the Grand Cherokee, filling it up with a tank of high-test and heading for Burger King and a Double-Whopper with cheese. Then comes a spin through Wal-Mart for some cheap, tasteless items and a Vin Diesel movie. You'll be able to spot my Jeep in the snowbanks. It's the one with the big American flag on the back window.

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