There are few things that Joe Biden, who is the President of the United States, likes to talk about more than American automaking. Except when it comes to Tesla, which Biden ignores because its CEO Elon Musk is anti-union and because Elon doesn’t like NHTSA and because Elon’s kind of a weirdo, but mostly it’s the NHTSA and union thing.This would be unremarkable if not for the fact that it seems like Musk can’t stand it.
Now, despite the presence of Jeff Bezos and the whole pedo-guy saga and all the mini-Twitter tussles, Elon is not really the kind of person to perpetuate public beef over time, as he’s so busy revolutionising global transportation and sending rockets into space and moving to Texas. His Twitter feed, on a normal day, is a mix of memes, emoji, dubious announcements, and, lately, how much he loves Canadian truckers. It is, in other words, a complete waste.
All of which is what makes his beef with Biden in recent days and months interesting, because it is not the usual programming. It reached a new high (or low, depending on how you look at it) on Monday, with Elon throwing his support behind a petition to get the White House to merely acknowledge Tesla’s existence. Even before that, the tweets have been there all along.
There was the petition one:
Starts with a T— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 27, 2022
Ends with an A
ESL in the middle
Biden is a damp 🧦 puppet in human form— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 27, 2022
Biden is treating the American public like fools— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 27, 2022
And from last year:
Biden is a UAW 🧦 puppet— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 31, 2021
Odd— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 19, 2021
Irony indeed— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 5, 2021
@POTUS (Ahem)— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 12, 2021
Inside the Biden administration, meanwhile, exists the full spectrum of Tesla people, both sceptics/possible haters (Biden) and fans, according to a Wednesday story in Bloomberg. Emphasis mine:
There’s no real mystery behind Biden’s antipathy toward Tesla, according to a person familiar with the president’s thinking. The president has long enjoyed the support of unions in his political campaigns, including the United Auto Workers, and while Tesla employees enjoy generous pay and benefits including equity in the car maker, Musk is hostile toward unions and company workers aren’t organised.
Within Tesla, there is a feeling among some executives that all of this is just politics: Biden will never win Texas, where Musk now lives, while Michigan — home to Ford and GM — and UAW support is key to Democratic victories both in upcoming midterm elections and in 2024.
Even some Biden aides say they wish the boss would warm to Musk’s company. “Bums me out as a satisfied Tesla owner,” one said. The White House officials who spoke for this story all asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue.
Biden has never tweeted about Elon Musk or Tesla, in addition to not publicly acknowledging that they exist. A White House spokesperson told Bloomberg that, “unfortunately, their CEO has suggested an opposition to new EV tax credits,” and didn’t even say Elon’s name. Biden is living in Musk’s head rent-free, as they say, and I would not have guessed that he’d ever be the one.