Fewer than six months ago, Gov. Jennifer Granholm cut short a trip to the Middle East to fly to Washington to fervently argue that bankruptcy was not an option.
Not for Chrysler, not for General Motors. "Consumers will not purchase a car from a bankrupt company," she told congressmen.
Now, six months later, it turned out that bankruptcy was an option after all. When General Motors filed on "Black Monday," the governor tried to put the best face on things.
In fact, she told a nationwide audience on MSNBC there was a silver lining. "We finally know we're hitting bottom. We're resilient and we know where the end is gonna be." Sounds nice, and as the state's top official, part of her job is to rally people at a time of crisis. Unfortunately, she is wrong.
True, some things are working out better than expected. While auto sales are still horrible, it turns out that consumers are indeed buying cars from bankrupt companies -- though President Obama's willingness to guarantee their warranties may have helped.
But the state certainly hasn't hit bottom yet. One small example: GM is laying off another 21,000 workers, of which nearly half are in Michigan. They haven't lost their jobs and stopped spending money in their communities ... yet.
That will happen gradually, and as they do, others in supporting and nearby businesses will lose their jobs, too. Unemployment will continue to rise. And after that ... we have to hope this all works.
The governor put this spin on GM's bankruptcy filing: "The doctor finally says we have one more painful operation and it's gonna take you three months to heal, and the prognosis is good.
"GM will be stronger."
Well, probably everyone in the state hopes so.
But as unpleasant as it may be to think about, success is by no means certain. The goal is for General Motors to reconstitute itself as a smaller and leaner car manufacturer, one that can make a profit with a far smaller sales volume.
The good news is that without a doubt, the downsizings over the past year, and the bankruptcy filing itself, are solving some of the biggest barriers to GM's success -- though at a great human cost.
However, what few realize is that GM's profitability plans are based on an assumption that the once-giant automaker will lose no more market share -- an assumption that may be unrealistic.
General Motors has, on average, lost 1 percent of market share a year since 1980, when it sold almost 45 percent of all new vehicles in this country. Today, its share is right around 19 percent.
Expecting it to stay there may be more a faith-based than a reality-based assumption. But one can understand wanting to believe. The government has pumped nearly $50 billion of taxpayer dollars into GM, and the nation has a vested interest in its success.
U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Menominee, set off a firestorm of controversy last week by suggesting that the remaining prisoners at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba be transferred to an abandoned prison in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
President Obama has pledged to close Guantanamo, but has to find some place to put the remaining 240 detainees. Stupak, a lifelong resident of the U.P., suggested putting them at a recently closed prison, Camp Manistique in Schoolcraft County.
His motivation was clear: The Upper Peninsula, even more than the rest of the state, needs jobs. Schoolcraft County has an unemployment rate of 17 percent, and an infusion of federal cash, some of which would be spent to transform Manistique into the equivalent of a "SuperMax" prison, would be very welcome
This evoked a firestorm of protest from his fellow congressman. Pete Hoekstra, a Republican who just happens to be running for governor, denounced the idea of "bringing 240 of the most dangerous people in the world to the Upper Peninsula."
What Hoekstra may not have realized is that the idea was not originally Democrat Stupak's, but was floated by John Engler, Michigan's three-term conservative Republican governor.
Stupak, meanwhile, said it was hard to see how Michiganders would be in much danger. Nobody has ever escaped from a SuperMax prison, and if one of the alleged terrorists did get out, it is hard to see how they could do much damage.
The area is sparsely populated, and an Arab in orange prison garb speaking no English would be fairly conspicuous.
"The only terrorists that will be created are mosquitoes," Stupak quipped.