On April 22, 2009, GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt entered a raging controversy at the University of Notre Dame surrounding an upcoming commencement speech by Barack Obama with an op-ed in, of all places, the Notre Dame Observer.
Without addressing any of the issues in contention, namely Obama's pro-choice policies and the school's obligations as a Catholic institution, the article expressed Immelt's wholehearted support for Obama and his upcoming speech. What made the article so odd, beside the apparent cluelessness of the author, was that the CEO of GE felt it necessary to add his opinion to an argument involving Notre Dame. Immelt is not a Notre Dame alumnus (he went to Dartmouth), he doesn't have affiliations with the university other than a commencement speech he gave in 2007, and he's not Catholic. One would think that the CEO of one of the largest companies in America would have better things to do than writing an op-ed for a student newspaper picking sides in an essentially intra-denominational controversy. So why would Immelt weigh in?