No. 1010
August 21, 2019

About The UjianNasional

Peter M. DeLorenzo has been immersed in all things automotive since childhood. Privileged to be an up-close-and-personal witness to the glory days of the U.S. auto industry, DeLorenzo combines that historical legacy with his own 22-year career in automotive marketing and advertising to bring unmatched industry perspectives to the Internet with, which was founded on June 1, 1999. DeLorenzo is known for his incendiary commentaries and laser-accurate analysis of the automobile business, as well as racing and the business of motorsports. Author. Commentator. Influencer. The Consigliere. Minister of the High-Octane Truth. DeLorenzo is considered to be one of the most influential voices commenting on the business today.

DeLorenzo's latest book is Witch Hunt (Octane Press  ). It is available on Amazon in both hardcover and Kindle formats, as well as on iBookstore. DeLorenzo is also the author of The United States of Toyota.

Follow UjianNasional



By Peter M. DeLorenzo 

Detroit. A strange phenomenon seems to have invaded our culture over the last few years. I don’t know if it is part of the zeitgeist of this era or just a strange aberration, but I find it disturbing nonetheless.  

I’m sure you’ve noticed it on television or in interviews across the media spectrum, too, from news commentators to sports anchors and everything in-between. It’s the odd use of the phrase “a little bit” when people are speaking, and it comes off as a hedge against coming off as too critical. 

I’ll give you an example: Imagine a political commentator pulling back on his or her criticism by saying, “I find it to be a little bit disingenuous that he is conducting himself in that manner.” Or a sports analyst commenting, “That defensive back was burned a little bit on that play.” Or an automobile company CFO suggesting, “We encountered restructuring costs and delays in our product cadence in the last quarter, which contributed to our headwinds a little bit.” 

Really? Now, I don’t know if the rampant use of this phrase is a reaction to the oppressive, politically correct haze our society seems to be burdened with right now, but I find it to be offensive and flat-out silly. In fact, pulling punches serves no one. 

Yes, there are times when it’s easier to gloss over something or someone’s comments to keep a social interaction from becoming contentious, but if you’re employed to convey opinions or perspectives to an audience or within a corporate discussion, adding the phrase “a little bit” doesn’t make things better, it doesn’t make the person sound smarter and it certainly doesn’t add to the concept of having a productive, authentic discussion. 

I don’t pretend to know the origins of the use of this phrase, but unfortunately it has become an epidemic. On the street. On radio and television. And throughout the social media spectrum. I hear it and see it everywhere. How did all of this come about? Where did we go wrong? Those questions could be applied to a lot of what American life is today, so maybe it’s best to leave them for another day.

But in your travels, listen for the phrase “a little bit” and see how much it shows up. Then try to imagine how much better things would be if it wasn’t there. Imagine a political commentator focusing his or her criticism by saying, “I find him to be totally disingenuous in his statements, and his conduct is appalling.” Or a sports analyst commenting, “That defensive back was burned on that play and it cost his team, big time.” Or an automobile company CFO confessing, “We encountered massive restructuring costs and regrettable delays in our product cadence in the last quarter, which contributed to our headwinds.” 

Sugarcoating things has become an unfortunate pastime in everyday life, it seems. Especially around here, where the excuses are masked in tedious platitudes and “it won’t be long now” empty pronouncements. As in, “Our roads are a little rough at this time of year.” Translation? The roads around here are brutal, cratered facsimiles of roads that cost Michigan motorists millions of dollars every year in wrecked tires, wheels, suspensions and windshields. It stopped being funny two decades ago. 

Or, ”We’re rebuilding for the future and we’re confident that we’re on the right track.” Translation? The last time the Lions won an NFL Championship was 1957. The team has been rebuilding ever since. Nothing ever changes either.

Or, “Our product cadence has lagged in certain instances a little bit but we’re back on track and right where we need to be.” Translation? We haven’t been accurate or on time with our product cadence in a decade. It’s a recurring Shit Show measured out in fits and starts that never gets better. Every time we think we’re back on track we take two steps back. Thus, it was ever so.

How about this? “Our advertising has delivered what we needed it to do and we have the best consumer research numbers in our history.” Translation? We’ve been throwing ideas up against the wall for so long now that we don’t even bother trying to create impactful national advertising. We just do glorified dealer advertising in a national wrapper and call it good. Our dealers don’t seem to care one way or the other (or don’t know the difference, take your pick) and we don’t either. And we save so much money doing it this way we look like heroes internally. 

The Final Translation? There’s nothing good about “a little bit.” Not even. It’s a half-assed hedge that glosses over reality and guarantees mediocrity. It’s about shirking responsibility and avoiding accountability. I never thought that in my lifetime that having a point of view would be a scarce commodity, but it in the times we live in that definitely seems to be the case, which makes rarer by the hour.

Given the Fog of Mediocrity enveloping our culture, that’s a very good thing from my perspective.

And that’s the High-Octane Truth for this week.